Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hillary, Please Say NO

(image from Boston.com)

It has surprised me how many Republicans have come out to sing the praises of Hillary Clinton and hailed her as a great choice for the new Secretary of State. I always thought she was unpopular in the Republican camp. But even Arnold Schwarzenegger who did not think Obama had the quads to be President, sees this as a good move, apparently seeing Clinton as a heavy lifter.

On reflection, I guess it makes some sense. Going back to the love fest primary debates, where Obama and Clinton seemed to agree on most everything, it was foreign policy outside of Iraq that stood out. On those issues Clinton had pressed the same arguments that McCain later followed with.

During the primary debates, Obama said he would meet with "rogue state leaders." He said the notion that not talking to countries is punishment to them "which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration – is ridiculous." While Hillary Clinton said she would not meet directly with those leaders.

And she opposes lifting the ridiculous embargo on Cuba.

Hillary Clinton does have a great deal of experience and understanding and would certainly be formidable negotiator. She is tough, but tough to a point where she already knows where she stands. More to the point, others outside the US also know where she stands. She is part of the old guard on foreign affairs with both an image, and apparently an imagination, clearly defined by what has come before. It seems she is still a member of the cold war generation.

Hillary Clinton is tremendously popular among my Chinese friends in the US, but not because of her foreign outlook. Instead it is her thoughts on domestic issues, especially health care and social justice.

In April this year, Clinton called for Bush not to attend the Beijing Olympics. Perhaps she was simply taking an opportunistic position trying to cater to the then anti-China sentiment, in order to rescue her failing primary, but it backfired. Her speech met with strong objections from many Chinese Americans who had been her supporters.

I applaud Obama's swell heart and wise actions to "ally the majority, including even those who were against you before" (as Chairman Mao once taught us :-)). And I think that Clinton could make a very important contribution to the US, but a contribution from within. It is unfortunate that the highest profile cabinet positions really have nothing to do with the common person in the US. Why should we care about money, wars and foreigners much more than we care about health, education and the common good? It is those latter places that are far more important in the long run, and where Clinton could serve so well.

So Hillary, should you chance to read this, please say NO to being Secretary of State. You can serve America much more effectively looking inward than facing out.

4 comments:

Other Lisa said...

The problem is, as a junior Senator, Clinton has relatively little institutional power in the Senate (though I gather Kennedy is trying to sweeten the deal for her to remain by offering her a subcommittee post that tangentially deals with healthcare).

I actually think Clinton is a good pick for SoS, for several reasons. Mainly, the domestic economy is in such crisis that Obama will not have time to travel abroad very much. Clinton is someone with star power almost equal to his and who is still tremendously popular around world. It sends a signal that the US under an Obama administration is serious about repairing relationships with other nations.

As for foreign policy differences between Obama and Clinton, they are not nearly as great as what's been advertised, and she would be carrying out his foreign policy in any case.

I also think that so much of the economic struggle is wrapped up in the global economy that she will have a voice on these issues as well.

My two cents.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hi Lisa, nice to see you here. You make good points. However, what I worry is that Clinton's hard line attitude would impede Obama's inclusive foreign policy. On the other hand, she could turn the Health and Human Services into something really important, if she wouldn't be offended by such an offer.

Jerry Waxler said...

Another way to look at it is that her policies as Secretary of State would be strongly influenced by his policies, and by the new "moral majority" of people who really want to do the right thing.

Xujun Eberlein said...

I hope you are right, Jerry, but she could convince him on things as well. She is a firm and persuasive lady. :-)