If Barack Obama appoints Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, it will send a cynical message to his supporters: that change is something they can still only hope for. Because if Obama relies on this unqualified Washington insider to fill one of the most important positions in his 'outsider' administration, it will represent neither change nor hope, just more of the same.
Instead of "Yes, We Can," Obama will be touting loud and clear: "No, we won't."
A Clinton appointment would replace the audacity of hope with the audacity to shamelessly break campaign promises.
As a president without any experience in foreign affairs himself, Obama needs a seasoned partner at State. And Hillary Clinton is definitely not that person - neither in substance nor in style.
Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the entrenched Washington political establishment that Obama so effectively challenged and so thoroughly disdained. That's what makes her consideration so puzzling. But it's not just her old politics that should immediately disqualify her. With her out-of-control husband freelancing with foreign governments to raise money for his cronies, his foundation, and for speaking fees for himself, the potential for serious conflicts of interest are incalculable and dangerous. We don't know precisely what the former president has been up to; it's all secret. For more than eight years, Bill Clinton has adamantly refused to disclose the fat-cat donors to his library and foundation. Because of a computer error in the Clinton Library, the New York Sun inadvertently learned that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai, the U.A.E, Kuwait, and Morocco have chipped in. But what about other governments or businesses?
Can we actually afford to have a Secretary of State whose husband secretly raises money from foreign governments who have strong interests in U.S. foreign policy decisions? That's what we'd have with the Clintons.
For Obama to choose Hillary would mean that he was ignoring the long overdue and strict ethical and professional standards that he claims will be imposed on all appointees.
Or is Hillary going to have a separate standard of her own? A substantially lower one? Already, it appears that the Obama rule that "if you leak, you're gone" doesn't apply to Hillary.
But does anyone really believe that Obama would appoint any other person to State whose spouse had publicly endorsed a controversial foreign leader for a U.N. position that the State Department opposed? That's just what Clinton did in the corrupt former Soviet state of Kazakhstan, where human rights violations are rampant. Clinton used his prestige as former President to set up a dinner meeting for Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, known best for eliminating all opposition in his country. Giustra wanted to buy some of the country's valuable uranium rights. Although he had no experience in this region, two days later, Giustra was awarded a contract which the New York Times termed a "monster deal...[that] suddenly transformed the company into the world's largest uranium producers." During his very short visit, Clinton publicly promoted Nazarbayev for chairman of a U.N. committee - a position that the United States government, and his own wife, had vehemently opposed. That didn't stop Bill. And, it worked out well for him and his pal. After the deal was closed, Clinton's foundation received a $31 million contribution from Giustra and a pledge of another $100 million and half of all of his future mining profits. That's not peanuts. It was a win-win situation for everyone - except for the United States government's interests.
Question: Did Kazakhstan also contribute to Clinton's foundation? And, if so, what did they want in return for it?
Because there's more: While Hillary was a presidential candidate, Giustra arranged a meeting with a Kazakhstan government representative and Clinton at his Chappaqua home to discuss the government's plan to buy a 10% stake in Westinghouse. Now why would they want to talk to Bill about that? Did they feel that they had a special entrée to the former president? Sounds like it. Clinton initially denied any such meeting, but later admitted it after the government representative, who had coincidentally also handled the uranium matter, produced a photo clearly showing him at the Clinton home with the former president.
Is this what the husband of a Secretary of State - or even a Senator - should be doing? Clandestinely meeting with representatives of oppressive regimes? Was he advising them about how to finesse their investment? The public needs to know what this was all about.
Because one thing is for sure: Bill definitely won't change and there's no telling who else he's been hitting up for money.
Remember his partnership with the Emir of Dubai and his other billionaire buddy Ron Burkle? He's already made more than $10 million on that deal and was secretly advising Dubai on how to get the Port Deal approved in Washington while Hillary was publicly opposing it. He helped the anti-Semitic Dubai create a public relations image as a modern Arab state while it kidnapped and enslaved three and four year old male children to use as camel jockeys.
He's lobbied for other favorite projects, too. After he was paid $800,000 for speeches by Colombian Free Trade interests, the former president picked up the phone and called several democratic congressmen to advocate passage of the treaty. He's never registered as a lobbyist or a foreign agent, but that hasn't stopped him. Nor will it in the future.
The potential problems are obvious.
The husband of a Secretary of State cannot be in business with the head of a foreign country with growing interests in the U.S.
Instead of a rogue co-president, Clinton would be a rogue co-Secretary of State. And that's something Obama can't afford.
But aside from being the poster child of the status quo, Hillary is simply not qualified for the job. She has no foreign policy credentials, other than visiting eighty countries as First Lady, where she usually toured schools and hospitals with no diplomatic missions. And, of course, we know her assertions about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia and playing an important role in the Irish Peace Process were just fantasies.
Some commentators suggest that the Secretary of State position has become a "woman's" seat and that Hillary is the logical next Secretary. But the previous women, Albright and Rice, were not ingénues who needed on the job training. Both were experienced diplomats with PhD's in their fields. Hillary had none of this background. She didn't even have national security clearance at the Clinton White House. Obama needs more than this.
Finally, the colossal leaking by Clinton and her allies of her likely appointment, designed to box the President-elect into a corner, should teach Obama a lesson: the Clintons will try to outflank him on every turn and undermine him when he gets in their way. These are no partners for a new president to have on a world stage.
So is the champion of hope and change going to appoint the woman that he derided as the ultimate apostle of the status quo, whose husband travels the world trailing clouds of conflicts of interest in his wake?
Isn't that just what the old politicians would do?