Friday, November 14, 2008


Chicago Politics Meets Sun Tzu

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," said the ancient philospher.

President-Elect Obama -- apparently considering Hillary Clinton for secretary of state -- might add, "...but give them a job that can send them far away when necessary."

If this is more than just the usual floated balloon, this is a very smart move. Secretary of state is one of the plum positions in any administration; it's in no way a "consolation prize." It insures that she will have a powerful voice in foreign policy in the new administration. Furthermore, given how much she pushed her international experience during the campaign, Hillary can now put her money where her mouth is -- and answer that 3 AM phone call.

But, of course, this also works politically. This assignment gives the Clintons a stake in the success of an Obama administration. It becomes harder to create an alternate base of political power as a part of the team -- than she would from her Senate office. In short, there's less of a chance of Bill and Hillary working on a potential primary challenge in 2012, if she's been part of the Obama first term for any extended period of time.

Oh, and just to prove that sentiment means nothing to Barack Obama: John Kerry has made no secret of the fact that he had a notion to be SOS -- something he's been thinking about for a while. Sorry, John. You gave Obama his head start by giving him the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. You jumped on board early this year.

But business is business. Forget about secretary of state, John.

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