Sunday, November 23, 2008

Surprise! Hillary Gets All The Ink

Treasury Choice Trumps All: While President-elect Barack Obama apparently has named his top cabinet secretaries and White House team, only one has captured the fancy and imagination of the media. Hillary Clinton, of course. As Secretary of State. Big mistake, the attention she receives. Unless the U.S. is suddenly attacked between now and Jan. 20, the most critical cabinet appointment is Treasury Secretary, what with the economic crises our nation and those around the world are suffering. That would be Timothy F. Geithner, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Geithner is relatively unknown outside of Wall Street and government circles. Those in the know, say he is the perfect selection. His chief adviser will be Larry Summers who served as Treasury Secretary under President Clinton. Obama is scheduled to unveil his economic team at a Monday press conferene. Wouldn't it be incredibly patriotic -- to borrow the word he used the past eight years to support his policies -- if Bush appointed this transition team to Treasury Secretary immediately? Of the others, only Eric Holder as Attorney General may receive a grilling from Senate Republicans during confirmation hearings which may extend into May of next year. They want answers to his handling of pardons and other glitches while serving as Asst. AG under Clinton.

Clinton Mystique: But, it will be Hillary in the plum assignment of Secretary of State that will titillate her coverage like flies hovering over the picnic table. She's a superstar. A celebrity. An icon. A media giant the public both loves and hates. If she doesn't, her faithful entourage will leak tidbits of gossip and policy differences to the hordes of reporters who have established a trust over the years with the Clintons. Certainly, Obama now trusts Clinton despite a bitter primary battle where their differences were more hyped than substantive. Apparently, Obama has pledged direct access and carte blanche for her to appoint people of her own choosing to State jobs. That remains to be seen. Despite her chops knowing many of the foreign leaders personally, the question arises whether she can convince them she speaks for Obama. That will depend on how the working relationship is arranged between Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Obama's chief of staff, the National Security staff and CIA director. A conflict of egos there, to be sure. Biden's role and force in all this is becoming more curious by the day. But by accepting Secretary of State, Hillary puts her presidential ambitions on hold to carve a new path on her resume. Hillary cannot afford to scew up. She must know State celebrities such as Colin Powell quit or were fired for policy differences with their presidents. Obama sees in her a good trooper whose charm, intelligence and fortitude can counter the likes of a Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez. Hillary's biggest problem is she is a Clinton. Her husband's myriad web of financial donations to his library and foundations poses a continual perception of ethical shortcomings. While Hillary is disciplined, Bill is not. Who knows what he will say or what financial deal he is entangled among world industrialists and governments that could be mistaken for U.S. policy? One can only hope the Obama team vetted Bill Clinton's financial records and negotiated in no uncertain terms what he can do while Hillary is Secretary of State.

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