Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has long had her sights set on a desk in the Oval Office at the White House, will instead soon be moving into the big office at the U.S. State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 16-1 Thursday to confirm Clinton as Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Her confirmation must now be approved by the full Senate, but she is not expected to face great opposition there.
Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination a year ago, will now serve for the man who defeated her. In that respect, Obama is taking a page from Abraham Lincoln’s playbook. Lincoln appointed three of his campaign rivals to Cabinet posts, including William Seward as secretary of state.
Seward proved to be an able international diplomat during this nation’s Civil War. Clinton won’t take office during a crisis anywhere near that magnitude, but she will face serious problems such as the continuing global economic crisis, terror threats from countries like Iran and North Korea, a seemingly implacable conflict between Israel and Palestine, and deteriorating conditions in countries ranging from Russia to Venezuela. Even Mexico, a recent security report warned, is in danger of spiraling toward anarchy because of its faltering economy and the growing power of drug lords.
While we often have disagreed with Hillary Clinton over the years, there is no question she is an extremely intelligent and capable woman. She has demonstrated her pragmatism on a number of issues, both in the Senate and on the campaign trail. She fielded tough questions in her confirmation hearings, demonstrating she was well-prepared and nearly unflappable.
She will need large measures of all those skills as she attempts to negotiate with despots and dictators from around the globe and tries to hew to Obama’s vision of talk rather than conflict.
We truly hope she proves that Obama’s faith in his one-time rival was justified.