THE BLOG
10/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Announce Hillary as Secretary of State

With the Palin media frenzy still in high gear, it's imperative that Obama take back the excitement momentum. One powerful way to shake up the race again would be to begin publicly announcing his Cabinet, beginning with the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, assuming she agrees to take the position.

This would not only give the public a deeper sense for what an Obama administration would look like. It would reignite the passions of devoted Hillary followers as they are assured of the power and influence that she would wield in an Obama administration.

Hillary Clinton has, by all accounts, demonstrated her credentials to be the President. The Secretary of State plays a key role in positioning America on the global stage and representing our interests abroad, as well as acting as an adviser to the President. It is the single most powerful and visible role in the Cabinet and a role for which she is eminently qualified. Such a position would also harness more of the wisdom gleaned from eight years of the Clinton administration and augment the foreign policy expertise that Biden brings.

In terms of election dynamics, such an announcement would turn the headlines back to Obama's candidacy, with some pundits calling it a brilliant tactical move to regain Hillary's supporters and others calling it a reaction to the Palin buzz. The debate itself would shift the fascination from the Palin pick, as well as subtly highlight the fact that Obama's Secretary of State would be more qualified to be President than McCain's VP.

With a defined role in the coming Obama administration, Hillary's campaign events could have renewed vigor and visibility and those followers who have felt slighted and thus inclined to support Palin would have an additional reason to vote Democratic.

The next logical step with such an approach would be to announce further Cabinet picks, which would grab headlines, illuminate details about his administration's plans, and add powerful leaders to the campaign trail. As the full Obama team becomes more visible, with specific leaders able to talk about concrete policies that can solve America's formidable problems, voters can more easily look beyond the personalities at the top of the ticket and instead look at the programs and teams that can implement those policies. And it is in the details of their plans for America where the most important differentiators between McCain and Obama can be found.

By publicly announcing his Cabinet picks in advance, Obama would break historical precedent, demonstrating his role as change agent. Ironically, the stage is already set for this move since both McCain and Obama on 9/11 agreed to a Cabinet level position for Service and offered the position to their opponent if they win. In the long term, a shift towards early announcement of key Cabinet members would make good sense. After all, a venture capitalist will rarely invest in business ideas without assessing the full team that can execute a plan. Similarly, the American people should have a better sense for the full leadership team that will constitute an Administration rather than just the #1 and #2. Even better is a strategic plan for how to implement policies, which Cabinet members can be invaluable in fleshing out.

In today's world of complexity, a President can only process so much information. It is beholden upon his or her Cabinet to be voices of wisdom, balance, and innovative ideas. The mark of a great leader is that they surround themselves with excellent leaders rather than yes-men or yes-women. Picking Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and announcing that now would give us further insight into the caliber of leadership that Barack Obama would bring as President.

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