Ever since Barack Obama won the primary the question has been asked, "What will Hillary do?"
The assumption has been that President-elect Barack Obama would offer her some significant position for several reasons:
- He respects her intelligence and grit.
- It is better to have her on the inside than on the outside, in keeping with Doris Kearns Goodwin's portrait of Lincoln in "A Team of Rivals."
- She deserves it, having been the good soldier and campaigned for him vigorously in the last two months.
- Her supporters continue to care passionately about her and expect her to be elevated to top position
There are only two jobs that he could actually offer her that she could accept. One would be the Supreme Court, but she has already made it clear that she is not interested and it is easy to understand why. If she accepted a seat on the court she would have to become a political nun, removed from the politics that she relishes. She is a public person who wants to remain engaged in the hurly burly of politics.
The other would be Secretary of State, one of the top three cabinet posts. She could not accept anything less, like Secretary of Health and Human Services or Ambassador to the UN. She has moved far beyond those more circumscribed roles.
Moving from the Senate to the State Department would not likely entail the loss of a Senate seat because New York Governor David Paterson would name a Democrat to fill the vacancy.
As a former Hillary supporter I would be delighted to see Hillary Clinton as the next Secretary of State. And, I know that thousands of women, not only those who voted for her, would agree. In just a short period of time, the position of Secretary of State has been filled by two capable women: Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice. It seems only fitting for President-elect Obama to follow this tradition, but not only because she's a woman, but because she is the best person for the job. She has traveled widely as First Lady, established good relationships with world leaders, and gained universal respect. And unlike Sarah Palin, throughout her primary campaign, no one questioned whether she was qualified to be President. Surely, then she is qualified to be Secretary of State.
This was originally posted at Chelsea Green.
Madeleine M. Kunin is the former Governor of Vermont and was the state's first woman governor. She served as Ambassador to Switzerland for President Clinton, and was on the three-person panel that chose Al Gore to be Clinton's VP. She is the author of Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead from Chelsea Green Publishing.