Hillary Clinton, though failing to become the first woman President in the 2008, continues to collect valuable legislative and political experience, which will eventually make her one of the most experienced politicians in Washington. Indeed, Hillary Clinton knows first hand how a health care reform package can fall apart due to a myriad of complex factors. What better advice could President Obama have than from someone who actually tried to broker a health care reform package more than a decade ago?
Personally, I was a little surprised that President Obama had offered the Secretary of State position to Hillary Clinton. For those of us political aficionados watching from the sidelines, the 2008 Democratic primary appeared to be one of the most bitter contests that Democrats have held in a long time. For obvious reasons, the Bush presidency left a moral vacuum could only be filled with a Democrat in the oval office, instead of more of the same policy. It seemed like a winner take all scenario, in which the winner of the Democratic primary would go on to the White House. However, in the summer of 2007, most were putting their money on Hillary wining that dog race. Of course, things didn’t work out that way, and in the fluid situation of a political battle royal, Barack Obama’s cool tone and academic rhetoric won the day.
Many believed that Hillary Clinton would go on to become a Ted Kennedy of the Senate, building a long political career of legislative accomplishments that could rival any President. However, as Kennedy was only in his early 30s when he entered the Senate, Hillary Clinton was stuck in the awkward position of being the junior senator from New York in her mid-fifties, and she apparently wasn’t in line for any of the leadership positions available in the Senate due to her junior status. Then Barack Obama floated the idea of Secretary of State.
Reportedly, Hillary Clinton did not take the position immediately. And with good reason. While the Secretary of State is often an influential member of the cabinet, there have been more than one Secretary of State that has been sidelined by the President. Indeed, Colin Powell was often sidelined in the Bush administration by both Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney. How much input Hillary Clinton has in the Obama administration will be decided by the President.
As Hillary Clinton has been visiting several countries in her function as Secretary of State, one wonders how much advice, if any, she has given President Obama concerning the current health care reform efforts. Certainly the big players are still as involved as they were in the 1990s, i.e. the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and a variety of political interest groups. Having tried to bargain at the table with several of these groups, only to be unseated by a variety of criticisms and attacks from various lobbyists, Hillary must recognize similar aspects of the present situation playing itself out again. Something similar to history repeating itself seems to be happening in the current health care debate. Even though the President and his advisors were apparently caught off guard by the high tenor that the debate has reached, including death panels and rumors of a “government take over” of the heath care system. I doubt if Hillary Clinton would have been so surprised by a vicious right wing counterattack against a public health care option.
Perhaps President Obama has consulted his Secretary of State on the topic of passing health care reform, but is afraid to use her to make public statements about the importance of passing health care reform. Perhaps due to her association with the failure to pass health care reform over a decade ago, and perhaps because commenting on health care might not be in the job description for a Secretary of State. Given how loud the opposition to health care reform has become in the past few weeks, the President probably needs all the help he can get.
Source: Hillary Rodham Clinton, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Rodham_Clinton