President-elect Barack Obama has just announced his decision to name Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (his former rival for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States) as his Secretary of State when he takes office in January. While this news isn’t actually “news” per se (we’ve been hearing that Hillary was his choice for weeks now), I think it’s absolutely relevant to talk about it now that Clinton‘s nomination to Obama‘s Cabinet is official. Here is a pic of Obama and Hillary at their press conference in Chicago, IL this morning:
President-elect Barack Obama is filling his Cabinet at record speed, choosing loyal friends and one-time foes to guide his wartime foreign policy decisions. Obama on Monday announced Democratic primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state and said that President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, is staying on. Obama also named Washington lawyer Eric Holder as attorney general and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary. He also announced two senior foreign policy positions outside the Cabinet: campaign foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador and retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones as national security adviser. The announcements rounded out the top tier of the team that will advise the incoming chief executive on foreign and national security issues in an era marked by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and terrorism around the globe. “The time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century,” Obama said as his Cabinet picks stood behind him on a flag-draped stage. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.” Obama said his appointees “share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.” Obama also has settled on former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to be his secretary of Health and Human Services and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary. Last week, he named key members of his economic team, including Timothy Geithner, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as Treasury secretary. The decisions mean Obama has half of the 15-member Cabinet assembled less than a month after the election, including the most prominent positions at State, Justice, Treasury and Defense. With the world grappling with war, recession and terrorist threats that erupted this week during coordinated attacks in India, Obama was moving swiftly to try to bring reassurance and continuity in the federal government when he takes over in less than two months … Obama’s choice of Hillary Clinton was an extraordinary gesture of good will after a year in which the two rivals competed for the Democratic nomination in a long, bitter primary battle … The bitterness began melting away in June after Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama. She went on to campaign for him in his general election contest against Republican Sen. John McCain. Advisers said Obama had for several months envisioned Clinton as his top diplomat, and he invited her to Chicago to discuss the job just a week after the Nov. 4 election. The two met privately Nov. 13 in Obama’s transition office in downtown Chicago. Clinton was said to be interested and then to waver, concerned about relinquishing her Senate seat and the political independence it conferred. Those concerns were largely resolved after Obama assured her she would be able to choose a staff and have direct access to him, advisers said.
Personally, I think this decision is the perfect way for the US to benefit from the leadership of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In the primary season, I was strongly on Team Hillary but happily supported Obama when he won the nomination. Unlike many other people, I’m glad he did not select Hillary to be his VP because I think she can better serve this country as the Secretary of State. This way, we have the best of both worlds. Obama and Clinton will make an amazing team and will be better able to work together to get things done in this capacity. I’ve been thrilled at the prospect of Hillary Clinton being named our nation’s top diplomat since the reports began to swirl a few weeks ago … now that it’s official, I’m over the moon. The coming administration has filled me with such hope and optimism … I can’t wait for them to get to work.