Friday, November 14, 2008


I joked about Maureen Dowd in my last post, but the notion of Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's secretary of state is appealing if for no other reason than the fact that it undermines the Dowd narrative of the Democratic nominating contest, which is that a preening golden boy walked all over an older, more experienced woman on his way up the ladder, and never gave a thought to her accomplishments. (As I see it, what really happened was that two ambitious politicians thought it was their time, and the one whose belief seemed farfetched at first turned out to be right and had a better plan for making it happen.)

On policy, I always saw Clinton as more inclined to head to the center (if not the right) -- that's one of the reasons I voted for Obama in the primaries. I don't know how much rightward drift there would have been on foreign policy in a Clinton general election campaign, or in a Hillary Clinton administration, but I think there would have been a lot more than there was from candidate Obama, or will be under President Obama. Remember, Obama stuck to his guns on a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, on negotiating with nasty foreign leaders, on refusing to swoon at the mention of the word "surge." By contrast, it's a Clinton household trait to be much more concerned about protecting one's right flank.

Yet I don't think Clinton really has to make major adjustments to her foreign policy to get to Obama's. Their differences aren't at all like the diferences between, say neocons and conservative realists. If she gets this gig, her experience (and, yes, her greater centrism) would be in the mix, but with the less cautious, less centrist Obama in the lead. That doesn't sound bad to me.

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