Friday, November 21, 2008

Senator Clinton Again

At long last it appears that Senator Hillary Clinton will be President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of State. The announcement will apparently be made after Thanksgiving, along with the names of the rest of Obama's national security team.

So now it falls to New York Governor David Paterson to appoint a replacement. And, of course, a lot of lobbying is going on behind the scenes for this plum assignment. The governor has taken his own name out of the running, but the state's aggressive attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, is a strong candidate.

Governor Paterson, if you haven't done so already, give William Jefferson Clinton a call and see if he's interested. It is not unprecedented. Two former presidents have served in the U.S. Congress in the past. Former President John Quincy Adams spent 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and President Andrew Johnson served as a U.S. Senator.

President Clinton is one of the most powerful and admired politicians in the United States. His presidency was largely very successful; the country prospered and during his two terms America was widely respected around the world.

With the U.S. economy in the tank and our troops fighting two wars, there is plenty of work to be done. Clinton is exceptionally knowledgeable on most issues, passionate and he has unmatched experience, including as a state governor. And he will have more time because, with Hillary's appointment as secretary of state, Bill will have to curtail his outside speaking and fund-raising. And the Clinton's can buy a second home in Foggy Bottom, just a short hop from Reagan Airport and the New York shuttle.

Yes, Bill is a bit of a maverick and he likes to speak his mind. But he may be more constrained as a senator than as a private citizen. And senators are independent operators, so he will have plenty of flexibility. Can you imagine both Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Bill Clinton serving the same state in the same chamber? My hunch is Clinton would try not to do anything that undermines or embarrasses his wife in the world's greatest deliberative body (like South Carolina), nor with the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Yet he would be a powerful force and voice to assist in positive change for America.

The Clinton Senate seat is up again in two years. If Bill Clinton does not like the job he can always step aside. But this is "an all hands on deck" time in our nation's history, to quote Obama. This country needs all the heavy-hitters it can muster on the front lines fully engaged. The country needs ideas, innovation, imagination and people who can deal with the complicated and challenging issues facing America today.

President-elect Barack Obama is confident, intelligent and secure enough to handle strong-willed people. Bill Clinton is a smart, savvy and superbly experienced leader. And America needs all the help it can get.

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