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Opinion

Secretary of State Clinton?

In Hillary, Obama would be launching a superstar diplomat.

By John Hughes / November 20, 2008



Provo, Utah

If Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of State, it could not have escaped the attention of the Clinton and Obama camps that this might turn out to be a nifty launching pad for her to make another run at the presidency in 2012.

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What secret codicils then could have been appended to the deal? What guarantees given that Mrs. Clinton would be promoting President Obama's foreign policy and not her own? What cone of silence agreed to for Bill Clinton, the diplomatic first dude?

What salve offered to Joe Biden, whose foreign-affairs expertise might be eclipsed?

The choice of Clinton would be fascinating innovation for an Obama presidency that has not yet even officially begun.

True, Clinton would not exactly be breaking new ceiling glass. Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice have been successful women in the role before her. But in Clinton, Obama would be launching a diplomatic superstar, whose face and name are instantly recognizable from Iran to Nigeria, and Brazil to Pakistan.

She would have no problem gaining the attention of kings and presidents and prime ministers and foreign ministers around the globe.

For Clinton, it would be a new world of protocol, and carefully parsed communiqu├ęs. There would be the classified briefings. Say she is presented with photos depicting North Korea's Kim Jong Il visiting his generals. But the photo is obviously doctored with the generals' shadows going in one direction and Mr. Kim's shadows in another. Does this mean that the North Korean ruler has been incapacitated? If so, who is in charge?

Spending up to half of her time abroad, she would travel in a presidential jumbo jet, with instant communications, an attentive staff, and a coterie of diplomatic correspondents demanding to be thrown new snippets of information to file. At each stop, US security officers with automatic weapons, barely disguised in Gucci bags, would guard her as she worked and slept.

I think this secretary of State would want to surmount the protocol and the bureaucracy and be eager for major diplomatic achievements, big breakthroughs.

There are plenty to be made.

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