Hillary Clinton To Be (Or Not To Be) Secretary Of State?Forget all the old white guys you've been hearing about (John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, or, technically Latino Bill "McGrabbyhand" Richardson), Hillary Clinton is the new name to surface in Obama's supposedly secretive hunt for a Secretary of State. Should she stay in the Senate, or should she go to Foggy Bottom? I mean, the commute would be shorter, but still. Spencer Ackerman and I have some thoughts on that, the incumbent Condi's tenure, why I hate working in coffeehouses, why Max Baucus is kind of a dick, why Tammy Duckworth is awesome and who Susan Rice is and why she represents a big step forward for feminists in foreign policy. Oh, and then there's a little frightening reveal into Spencer's personal life... all after the jump.MEGAN: In continuing my streak this week of mornings completely sucking, the power company has informed me that I will be paying for power oday but not receiving any, so I am writing you from a very loud coffee shop where children are welcome. And, apparently, caffeinated! And you thought I wanted to die when I didn't know where my car was. SPENCER: This week has really shaped up into your own personal stations of the cross, hasn't it? What happened with your car? MEGAN: It was towed. Since New York City can't make me pay taxes and revenues are down, they're towing fucking everything now. They didn't take my knee high boots, though, and, apparently, they enjoyed the sound of my alarm for quite a while. I plan on wearing the boots in celebration. SPENCER: Did you get it back from the impound lot or take the bus home? MEGAN: (At this moment, in violation of this coffee house's ban on cell phone conversations, the man behind me is conducting one. Fucking kill me). Oh, no, I got it out of hock, after 10 days they would sell it! SPENCER: Aee, this is why YOU SHOULD NEVER TALK ON THE PHONE. Only text-based communications are welcome. Never use your phone for voice communication MEGAN: Anyway, if we're going to relate this to politics, can we call the rumors of Hillary as Secretary of State a big game of D.C. telephone? SPENCER: And here's the tragedy. HRC will never be Obama's SecState — just ludicrous to consider, what with the backbiting and undermining, completely alien to Obama's management style thus far. HOWEVER. HRC has all the skills necessary to be a good secretary, even a great one: she has a massive international stature, she's fluent in the details of strategy and the larger picture, she knows how to be persuasive and she learned about management — what works & what doesn't — in the WH. But if you were HRC, would you rather:
  • a) spend a couple years in an Obama administration, where you probably will clash with your boss, and that will lead him to fire you, or
  • b) have the chance to pass the Clinton-Baucus Health Care Act of 2009, fulfilling a lifelong dream of improving people's lives in this country, and going on to spend your remaining years as a Senate baron?
MEGAN: I'm thinking Clinton should hitch her star to the Kennedy bill, because Baucus didn't make any friends pulling that shit this week. What is the Senate Finance Committee chair doing issuing a health care reform package without any input from the Health Committee chair? Nonetheless, yes, that is the real question: does she want to take full advantage of the Senatorial Retirement Home, or do something exciting and really change some shit. Because State is way overdo for some structural reforms, and this might well be one of the more exciting times to be Secretary of State, given where Obama wants to take our foreign policy. SPENCER: Well, I don't understand the politics of health care, I have Ezra Klein for that. I'm just making a general point about what she can accomplish in the Senate. MEGAN: Also, she's reportedly in Chicago. No, I understand that, it was just mostly a way for me to point out what Baucus is doing, besides issuing a health care plan that's in opposition to many of the principles of Obama's, which is legitmately at this point mostly Clinton's from the primaries. SPENCER: Whoa whoa whoa. Structural changes at State? Never happen. That was one of Condoleezza Rice's many attempts at doing something that failed. It would be nice if the Department bred, say, a more expeditionary Foreign Service culture, allowing diplomats to better partner with soldiers & marines in counterinsurgency, but when Rice proposed sending more diplos to Iraq last year there was practically a riot. HRC doesn't want that headache. MEGAN: Well, but that's not a structural reform from the bottom up — and I'm not saying HRC would want to take it on — but the system right now is a jury-rigged system of outdated written test-taking and competitive (argumentative) non-interviews that aren't really reflective of the modern world or modern career paths. But, speaking of Condi... You had some stuff to say about her. SPENCER: Yeah, I want to push back against any premature Rice-rehabilitation. She has not a single achievement to her name. It's crazy that she's so esteemed in Washington. She didn't do shit, except enable the worst foreign-policy presidency of all time and serve as the worst national-security adviser in history. She even comes across as a fool and a knave in the new Woodward book about the surge. MEGAN: Well, in her defense, she was honored at Glamour's Woman of the Year awards for her contributions to microfinance grants for women in developing countries and her efforts to get rape made a war crime at the UN. I'm not saying it balances out — like, at all — but she did do some small important things. SPENCER: I can't wait until a document called NSPD-9 gets declassified, so we can see for all time that she lied to the 9/11 Commission and tried to destroy Richard Clarke's character for his crime of pointing out how she dithered while al-Qaeda got ready to attack. MEGAN: Ugh, yeah, that would be the stuff that doesn't balance out. She does appear to have been the biggest Bush cheerleader as opposed to pushing back when it was likely her job to do so. But there are women to admire, like Tammy Duckworth, who one can arguably say has suffered for Rice's missteps and might join the Obama administration as the head of the VA. SPENCER: That would be great. I love Tammy Duckworth and wish she had won her House seat in '06. Much like it sent a signal to Vietnam vets for Reagan to put Chuck Hagel at the VA (I think he was deputy first), so too should Obama put Duckworth in charge of his VA. She's allegedly the only competent, non-corrupt member of Blago... Blagojev... whatever the name of the Illinois governor is, she's his VA secretary and is killing it. Also she skipped the line ahead of me flying out of Denver after the Democratic convention and I didn't mind. Speaking of flying, I have to go to New Orleans but should we say something about Bill Ayers on GMA. MEGAN: I mean, I kind of wish he'd opened his yap a little earlier because he seems so un-terroristy that it would've stopped people in their tracks, maybe. SPENCER: Did you notice how on-message and clear he was? I don't know who the douche interviewer was, but he kept trying to get Ayers to concede that there was something shadowy to concede, and Ayers wouldn't. Also, journalists: never start a question with "surely..." because it invites your interview subject to dismiss your premise. MEGAN: That is some good advice. My advice: avoid hurricanes at all cost and if someone wants to see your tits, tell them you paid too much for them to let someone see 'em for 10 cent beads. SPENCER: Some spider or something bit me right next above my left nipple so I don't think I'm going to flash my tits this weekend. Anyway, may your week of disaster come to a close and I'll find a red wine you like in New Orleans. Also expect drunk photos from either myself or travel companion Calderone. MEGAN: I am greatly looking forward to those! But you should probably tell your girlfriend to stop biting your nipples so hard. SPENCER: Honestly it's some kind of bug. MEGAN: I don't really need to know about your role-playing sex games. SPENCER: Oh but really quick self-promotion: You want a strong woman at the helm of Obama's foreign policy? Meet Susan Rice. And check out this quote Princeton's Ann-Marie Slaughter gave me:
Slaughter added that Rice’s potential ascendancy represented a milestone in gender equity for the foreign-policy community. “It is very important to women in foreign policy that Susan is not married to her job,” Slaughter said. “She has a great husband and two young kids, and she managed to balance it. After Madeleine Albright, whose kids were grown, and Condi Rice, who does not have a family, that’s a very important message to send. After all, most men in foreign policy manage to have families, too.”
That was my kicker in the piece and now I'm out. MEGAN: I've heard from a number of people about her awesomeness, actually, so here's hoping her participation in the Obama Administration doesn't end with the end of his transition team. Be safe!