The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Reading the Hillary Clinton tea leaves

Posted by Bill Nance on November 16, 2008

The sport of the day seems to be reading the tea leaves in speculating about a Hillary Clinton posting as Secretary of State.

As you all know, I saw this from the outset (and still do) as a simple quid-pro-quo for playing nice during and after the convention.

The latest culprit in the tea-leaf reading business is everyone’s favorite statistics geek: Nate Silver.

Silver’s entrail-interpreting focuses on the big question: What’s in it for Hillary? Which is, of course, a good place to start. For whatever other qualities she may possess, and they are not small in number, HRC is nothing if not self-serving and opportunistic.

Of course I assume, as does Silver, that she still wants to President. She will still be young enough in 2016 to make a run at the job and God knows, has enough ambition for any five other politicians.

Opineth Silver:

The fundamental question I am concerned with, however, is slightly different. If Hillary Clinton’s goal is to become President of the United States in 2016, would she improve her odds by accepting the Secretary of State position? The answer to this question is less clear.

Silver suggests a better alternative for her would be to stay in the Senate or perhaps have a shot at the New York governorship. I must disagree.

In the U.S. Senate, HRC has just enough influence to make her a thorn in Obama’s side, but not enough to get her into majority leader or major committee chairmanship. That means another 8 years in the senate don’t do much to ramp up her presidential credentials.

Running for governor of New York presents its own problems for Hillary. First, she is still deeply in debt from her primary run for president, and secondly, she will be seen as using the position as a stepping stone. So winning the election there is far from a settled matter, should she choose to make a run for the office. But what does being a one-term governor from New York add to Hillary’s experience?

Being governor of any state is not a job I would want given the present economic difficulties. Virtually every state in the country is probably going to have to raise taxes to some extent and even with that, the economy is going to be a brutal problem for every state executive. All being governor would do for Hillary is get her labeled as “another tax-increasing Democrat.”

SecState on the other hand, lets her off the hook completely. She won’t have to vote for a single Obama budget, not a single tax increase and not a single program.

If Obama turns out to be unpopular in 2012, she won’t have been tarred too directly with the policies unless she screws up the Job she’s given, which I highly doubt. She’s certainly capable of doing the job well.

On the other hand, in 2016, assuming even a mildly popular Obama presidency, she can both take credit for all the popular things and distance herself from the less popular ones. Americans have short memories and a poor grasp of civics. Dancing through line of popular and unpopular is something HRC should be able to do with ease. And no one will be able to raise a word about her qualifications.

And here’s the the final piece in the puzzle which no one has raised:

Joe Biden’s health is none-too great. His health records show him to be reasonably healthy, but are notably missing MRI screenings for new annueirsms and he has in the past had an irregular heart-beat.

It is not at all implausible that he could chose not to run for a second term as Vice President. If so, Hillary would be a solid replacement candidate.

For all the reasons above, Hillary would be well served by a posting as Secretary of State. It works out well for any future Presidential ambitions no matter what happens. For the reasons I’ve posted earlier, it’s a smart move for Obama to get her out of the role of potential spoiler.

And finally, let’s not forget: Hillary Clinton as as much a patriot as anyone. If her president asks her to serve, I find it hard to imagine her turning him down flatly.


One Response to “Reading the Hillary Clinton tea leaves”

  1. […] Reading the Hillary Clinton tea leaves The fundamental question I am concerned with, however, is slightly different. If Hillary Clinton’s goal is to become President of the United States in 2016, would she improve her odds by accepting the Secretary of State position? … […]

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