Um — why can’t we just keep Hillary as SecState?

As the Susan Rice contretemps continues to simmer — with another moderate Republican joining Lindsey Graham et al. in expressing dissatisfaction with her — I find myself wondering…

Why can’t we just keep Hillary Clinton in the job? Near as I can tell, she’s done pretty well at it. While I didn’t favor her for the nomination in 2008, I’ve always considered her to be a person who, if you gave her a tough job, whatever it is, she’d handle it pretty well — and I think her tenure as SecState has borne that out. She comes across as, to use Ken Kesey’s phrase, deadly competent. In other words, on a spectrum that had Lillian McBride on one end, Hillary Clinton would be on the other.

You’d never see Lindsay Graham claiming Hillary Clinton wasn’t up to the job (aside from the fact that they’ve always sort of been pals).

Also… am I the only person that this Hillary-retiring business sort of snuck up on? Everybody’s talking about it now like we always knew she wouldn’t be part of a second Obama administration, but somehow I’d missed that.

I don’t think I’d heard a word about Sec. Clinton’s plans to leave until we started talking about possible replacements. I know there was an election going on and everything, but somehow that had just gone right past me.

And yeah, I realize that conventional gossip would have her running for president in 2016. Warren Buffett, among many others, would like to see that. And this would certainly free her up for that.

But until such time as she does launch a campaign, I sort of wish she’d stick around. At least it would put a temporary end to this endless jousting about her successor…

30 thoughts on “Um — why can’t we just keep Hillary as SecState?

  1. Steven Davis II

    From what I am hearing Hillary wants out. Take a look at pictures of her, she’s aged faster than Obama has in the last four years.

  2. Silence

    We’ve really had quite a bit of trouble during her SecState term – The Arab Spring isn’t working out so good, Benghazi of course, Morsi proclaiming dictatorial power, Souring relations with Iraq, hittig the reset button with Russia, giving DVD’s and and iPod to the British Monarch, etc.

    I’m not saying she’s not done a fantastic job, no wait, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

    She’s smart to get out while the getting is still good and put enough distance between herself and Obama’s 2nd term trainwreck that she’s not burned beyond electability in 2016. Getting out is the smart thing to do if she wants to run.

  3. Brad

    But can you cite anything that she has personally, specifically screwed up?

    I mean, the fallout from the Arab Spring (and I put Benghazi in that category) was always going to be messy…

  4. Silence

    OK, it was a bit embarrasing when we gave the Queen an iPod. Firstly, she already owned one, secondly it’s a bit of a crummy gift for the reigning monarch of our closest ally. I understand that Hil’ didn’t pick the gift out herself, but I’m sure that there’s a protocol person in the State Dept that got canned for that episode.

    Then the Hillary presented Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov a “reset” button that actually said “overloaded”. It was a stupid gag to start with, but then to ‘f up the translation was pretty embarassing. You’d think that DoS might have some Russian translators or something. Again, not Clinton’s fault, but ultimately her responsibility.

    Unless she’s the Lilian McBride of foreign policy, ultimately she’s got to be accountable for the State Department’s activities.

  5. bud

    I agree with SD II. She really is worn down by this job. Given all the travel involved and the high-pressure meetings it is taking it’s toll. And what’s with that hairdo of hers? That probably adds 10 years to her appearance.

  6. Doug Ross

    Silence has it right, in my view. If she has any desire to run in 2016, she needs the time to build her campaign staff. She can leave now and no matter what happens going forward be blame free. If things go well for Obama, she just has to beat Joe Biden. If things go badly, she can’t be held accountable.

    I can’t see Biden running, though… but is there ANY other Democrat out there with any chance of beating Hillary? It’s tough to win that third term in a row for a party. Bush senior did it but he was running against a pretty lousy candidate.

  7. bud

    Silence is taking the easy road by pointing out stuff that has not gone perfectly. Put these incidents into context though and our foreign affairs have really come a long way from the Bush clusterfest. Sure the Arab spring stuff has been messy but it does appear that the region is heading in the right direction. The people are engaged in building democracies and the focus isn’t on the US but on their own dispotic leaders, Syria and Egypt are good examples.

    Despite what everyone says Iran is not the nuclear threat everyone claims it to be. Those tough sanctions really are giving them pause to reconsider.

    As for Russia and China. Seems like relations with those nations are stable. They are a different breed so a cozy relationship like we have with the UK is not really possible. But both nations seem to be cordial with the US. As for Iraq. Seriously that country is such a mess thanks to George W it is beyond any person to make much with that situation. And there are probably fewer ongoing wars throughout the world than there have ever been. Remember the days when Pakistan and India were always fighting. Same for Israel and it’s neighbors. The Balkans are quiet. Everything is relative. And relative to 2008 we’re doing quite well.

  8. Brad

    Bud, you couldn’t be more wrong when you say “Iran is not the nuclear threat everyone claims it to be.”

    Ask President Obama. Ask any of Iran’s neighbors in the region, not just Israel.

    I heard the president on the radio today talking about how totally unacceptable the idea of a nuclear Iran is, and saying that while the window is still open for negotiations, it’s closing quickly. (Sorry, I can’t find a link to that; just reconstructing it from memory.)

    And that got me to thinking… There is NO negotiated settlement that Iran’s current leaders would ever agree to in which they DON’T get the bomb. That’s the key for them, just as killing the Don was the key for Sollozzo, according to Michael. They will pursue any course that keeps us out of their hair until they achieve that.

  9. Doug Ross

    In terms of negotiation, what does the U.S. have to offer besides “if you build it, we will destroy you?”

    There’s nothing to negotiate. Rattle the sabers, crank up the payments to Halliburton and Lockheed Martin… same old, same old.

    Let Israel deal with Iran. I’m sure their nukes will be much easier to rain down upon the Iranians than ours.

    I know, I know… we only use our nukes for good.

  10. Brad

    Interesting thing about that…

    There was this documentary on TV a couple of days back by Oliver Stone, and despite the loony, crackpot source, it said some things that I had not heard before, and if true, affect my thinking on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

    1. That senior military leaders such as MacArthur and even Curtis LeMay said they thought we didn’t have to drop the Bomb to get the Japanese to surrender.
    2. The Japanese themselves, in surrendering, made more of Russia coming into the war than the atomic bombs. (And the documentary portrays the opening Soviet offensive as a much bigger deal than I ever thought it was.)
    3. The Japanese rather looked at it as yet another two cities razed, they were so desensitized by our even-more-destructive conventional bombing campaign. Which makes some sense. (One reason I’ve not tended to criticize the atom bomb decision is that I have a bigger problem, on humanitarian grounds, with the firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo.)

    I don’t know how accurate these depictions are, or what might be missing in terms of context.

    Maybe Burl, our expert on Pacific military history, could enlighten me…

  11. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad, you missed it. She has been very clear that she is done w/Secretary of State.

    The iPod gift was from Obama, I thought.

  12. Steven Davis II

    @Brad – Regarding the Japanese response, if you get sucker punched, you get up and hit then with the biggest thing you can get your hands on. No apologizes.

  13. Silence

    We probably missed a good opportunity on Sept 12, 2001 to start lobbing nukes in the general direction of a certain state in central Asia. Nobody would have made too much of a fuss, and we’d have showed the world that we meant business. About 4-12 nuclear tipped cruise missles would have been a good start. Then start broadcasting the message that we expected OBL to be delivered to Kabul International Airport within 3 days or things would get a whole lot worse….

  14. Pat

    Kathryn is right, Clinton said some months ago that she is tired and did not plan to continue another 4 years at her current grueling pace. I’m not interested in having Kerry in this post, though. I hope Rice pulls through if she indeed is as qualified as she appears.

  15. Scout

    I think I did kind of know that she had said she was not wanting to go a second round, but I don’t remember when or how I knew it. We usually watch Meet the Press and This Week every Sunday, so it may have been through something on there. I kind of think I actually heard it through an interview with Bill Clinton – maybe on 60 minutes?? Not sure where, but I definately heard an interview with him sometime in the past year where he talked about Hillary and just how much the job takes out of her. I think she is tired.

  16. Brad

    This may well be one of those blind spots I have from not watching TV news, including those Sunday talk shows. In fact, those are the “news” shows I am LEAST likely to see. It’s not just that I go to Mass on Sunday. Even if I didn’t, watching something news-related has always felt like work to me, and I don’t like doing any more work on the weekend than I absolutely have to. I have to have time to let my brain think about other things, or Brad becomes a dull boy. (And bottom line, I think that’s what a sabbath, or sabbatical, is about.)

    I had been thinking, before Scout said it, that this was the kind of thing that people who watch talking heads on TV would be hip to while I was not. That’s the kind of thing that might be said in passing, and frequently, on a program like that.

    Whereas I take in news in a headline form. Whether online or in print, I peruse headlines, and read more deeply into the stories that are important or interesting. That’s the sort of thing unlikely to generate a prominent headline ahead of time, even if everybody is talking about it.

    My way of keeping up with events isn’t perfect, but for most purposes it’s served me well over the years. I see the most important things to know NOW, and over a broad spectrum of topics. But sometimes, there’s something that tout le monde is talking about, supposedly, but it slips past me…

  17. Steve Gordy

    Oliver Stone’s interpretation of any events historical must be taken with a large handful of salt. Still, he has a point about LeMay believing that conventional bombing alone could bring Japan to its knees. Nimitz thought that a naval blockade would do the trick. Still, by August of ’45, we had the bomb and it was going to be used, one way or another.

  18. bud

    Surely the print/electronic media reported extensively on Clinton’s desire to leave State. Seems like that has been common knowledge for at least 6 months.

    I really hope Kerry gets the job. He seems far more pragmatic about foreign affairs matters than Susan Rice. We really don’t need another “big military footprint” type in charge of anything. And the scuttlebutt, at least according to Bill Kristol, is that is just what Ms. Rice would be.

  19. Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t watch TV News, and I knew it. It’s OK, Brad; you just missed it,

    Lobbing nukes, Silence?!? You are kidding, right?

  20. bud

    Silence, I really, really hope you’re just trying to get attention with the nukes thing. It has long been established that nukes are just not EVER to be used. The stakes are just too high. The radioactive fallout alone would be devastating. The public relations fallout would likely be fatal to any diplomatic efforts we would make. Every terrorist group in the world would line up to kill Americans. And their recruiting efforts would be made all that much easier. Thankfully no POTUS who is likely to occupy the Whitehouse would ever consider such a disasterous course of action.

  21. Kathryn Fenner

    Yowsa! Bud is right. We closed Pandora’s nuclear box and we need to keep it shut. We took care of OBL just fine using ordinary chemical means.

  22. Silence

    1) It’s well established that we’d consider the use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack on U.S. soil or personnel. Same for a chemical or biological attack.

    2) Other countries have made this option clear as well – notably France’s Chirac stated that they’d reconfigured their nuclear arsenal to provide tactical strike options.

    3) The airplane attacks on the twin towers were about as damaging an attack as any non-CBN attack could be. You have to believe that the nuclear response was considered.

    4) Who has established that nukes are just not EVER to be used? Has anyone told the Iranians? The Israelis? The Pakistanis?

    5) I don’t think that the foreign response to a limited retaliatory strike would have been severe after Sept. 11. I also doubt that the terrorist response would have been any worse than say, oh, what it’s been since we invaded Afghanistan/Iraq.

    Even folks who fight for stateless entities have a home and family somewhere.

  23. Kathryn Fenner

    A reference to science classes where they’d always add that proviso, since nuclear methods can do things like, well, smash atoms.

  24. Bart

    Pre-entry of America into WWII should be studied a little closer before making judgmental calls on how we conducted the war effort and our decision to fire-bomb Dresden and Tokyo along with the final decision to drop “the” bombs on Japan as part of the overall war effort.

    Germany was on a path to total domination of Europe. They had Italy and a lot more support in occupied countries than we realized. Germany’s influence in South America was greater than most Americans understood it to be. Japan had long been a militaristic power in the Pacific, especially Asia and had made incursions into China and other smaller countries with their military forces.

    Germany and Japan were not hesitant to enslave civilians in captured territories or establish programs to eliminate ethnic and/or religious groups they believed to be inferior or the cause for their own self-inflicted misfortunes, financially and otherwise. The brutality of their military governors was unparalleled in China and Europe. Italy was no exception in Africa either.

    We did what we had to do. There was no internet or other instant communication systems available for the average citizen to express their opinions and have them available so they could influence politicians. It was a different time in the simple fact that as a nation, we had a very different view of the world than we do today and we were less likely to question the decisions of our leaders on war and military issues. We had proven leaders in the military who had been through their own crucible of fire during WWI and even with their mistakes, they still had our trust.

    We made mistakes to be sure but in the end, if not for America, where would the world be today? What would be the face of Germany and Japan if America had not stepped in once again? What if America had not been able to stand face to face with the USSR and win the cold war?

    The last weapon of choice I ever want to see used is another nuclear device, tactical or otherwise but unfortunately, once such weapons are in the hands of an unreliable and unstable country, the odds of one being used increases exponentially as country after country obtains the technology and materials to build one or be provided one by a friendly country. Finding a delivery system is the easy part whether some on this blog agree or not. A less than reliable SCUD missile could deliver a nuclear warhead to any American or European population center from the deck of a small vessel. Witness the fact that China is well ahead of the curve in developing an aircraft carrier by making use of a hull that was adaptable and only needed to have the electronics and other operating systems adapted to computer technology originally supplied by the US. If you are not already aware, China is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of laptops, PCs, smartphones, etc. Lenova sound familiar?

    If biological agents and chemical compounds can be weaponized into small, difficult to detect delivery systems, the same can be applied to nuclear devices as well. And, it is not a matter of if but when a nuclear device will be used in the not too distant future. This is not a fatalistic or pessimistic attitude, it is simply an acknowledgment that we live in a very dangerous world and there are simply too many out there who would be more than willing to “push the red button” for personal, political, or religious reasons.

    When we take the approach that it is best to leave these matters to each country to decide, we abdicate our position in the world as the one obstacle standing in the way of rogue dictators or countries that are more than willing to take the next step toward another armed conflict against their neighbor(s).

    If not America, then who will it be? If you think for one moment the UN is capable of maintaining world peace and could reign in a determined country, think again.

    Just some thoughts and reflections to share.

  25. Kathryn Fenner

    I grew up twelve miles from a nuclear bomb plant. My whole life, people have been saying another bomb is going off sooner rather than later. I am almost 53. No bombs so far.

    The firebombing of Dresden was probably unnecessary. Germany was pretty much whipped by then. I don’t know as much about Japan and the atom bomb.

  26. Silence

    @ Kathryn – I also grew up in the vicinity of a large DOE installation. I won’t say which one, but it is located in East Tennessee, just Northwest of Knoxville.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *