Monday, September 15, 2008

Clinton in McCain's House

John McCain was asked recently in an interview whether he would offer Hillary Clinton a cabinet position in his administration. He replied with something diplomatic about how she wants to remain in the Senate where she will be an influential legislator together with whom the president will need to work. Still, I can see a place for a Clinton in a McCain administration - but not Hillary.

Last year, Bill Clinton was often floated as a possible Ambassador to the United Nations in a potential Hillary (or other Democratic) presidency. That position is probably the best one for him, and he is probably the best man for the job - Democratic or Republican. Like any ambassador, he would not be responsible for creating policy, so his presence would not give undue influence to the voters of 1992. He would, however, be responsible for diplomatic strategizing, confronting those enemies so recalcitrant they lack a Washington embassy, and being the face of the U.S.A. in Manhattan's global village.

These jobs would emphasize Bill Clinton's strengths, furthering his bipartisan disaster relief work, and letting him serve his country just a few miles from his Harlem office. It would rehabilitate his image as a statesman, tarnished in the Democratic primary (and leave him free to re-tarnish it in another bruising Hillary run in 2012).

The appointment of Clinton would let McCain emphasize his differences with the Bush administration on foreign policy - which are small, but significant. McCain agreed with Bush (and Hillary) on the need for a war in Iraq in 2003, a disastrous misjudgment in my view. He agreed with Bush (but not Hillary) on the need to win the war decisively, despite the setbacks of 2006, a vital long-term decision in my view. But McCain could show a different style in his prosecution of these policies: showing more respect for allies and working within rather than around international institutions.

Just as the Bush foreign policy style can be best characterized with the appointment of UN Ambassador John Bolton, McCain's could set the tone for a new era - and apologize to the world for defeating their darling, Barack Obama - by appointing Bill Clinton to this high-profile position.


Chops said...

Footnote on Bolton: No matter how qualified he might have been for the office of Ambassador, his unpopularity with his peers and his distrust from half the body politic essentially disqualified him as a diplomat.

That is partly the fault of those in the Senate who vilified him despite a pretty unremarkable resume, and partly the administration's fault for putting up someone so temperamentally and ideologically unsuited to the job.

Chops said...

This is crossposted at Watchblog

Carol L. Douglas said...

Well, since he can't make that appointment until after the election, and announcing it before the election would sound like pandering, what possible value is there in it for him?

BTW, CNN feed right now says, "Text messages sought in train wreck investigation" and "Lehman bankrupt; Merrill Lynch sold." I assumed they were talking about the same story until I read them.

Chops said...

Mmm, there's a lot of pandering that people don't mind. That's why we have campaigns.

Also, if McCain wins, he'll need a post-election campaign to solidify his win: a lot of people will cry racism, and European newspapers will write snotty editorials about mouthbreathing Yankee hicks. Centrist actions like this would help diffuse a worldwide election hangover.

Carol L. Douglas said...

Right now I'm suffering from a worldwide financial panic hangover. Second show with disappointing sales this weekend.