Alex Massie

She’s Back! (Maybe)

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I don't know. You go away for an internet-free weekend and everything seems more or less normal. You return and discover that there's much talk that Hillary Clinton could be the next US Secretary of State. Blimey! Andrew is, I think, depressed by this but concludes that shoving Hillary over to Foggy Bottom means she can't damage Obama without also, presumably, damaging her own chances of succeeding him. Perhaps! On the other hand, Mike Crowley says:

A stint at State, incidentally, would set Hillary up pretty nicely for 2016, if she's interested. (She'll be 69 years old on Election Day of that year.) No longer would people doubt the validity of her "experience."

I'm not sure this is entirely accurate. On the one hand, she'd have the "experience" card (presuming she didn't have to resign in disgrace) but Foggy Bottom hasn't sent anyone to the White House since James Buchanan (The other five Secretaries of State to have become President? Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, JQ Adams and van Buren.) Perhaps that's just a coincidence, but maybe it's not! 

There is also the problem that the Democratic party will face: it's tough for either party to win three presidential elections in a row. Its only happened once since Truman was President. That doesn't rule Hillary out, even aged 69, but it does suggest that her life will be more difficult. And by 2016 Hillary will have been in the public eye for more than a quarter of a century; too long for her to win, I think. Remember the Rauch Rule? LBJ is the only President since Teddy Roosevelt who took more than 14 years from their first significant election victory to become either President or Veep. And of course he needed Lee Harvey Oswald to get him the top job too.

Now maybe Rauch's Rule is a fluke too, but combine it with the State Department's status as a final destination, not a springboard to higher office and, well, the stars might not be so very well aligned for Hillary after all.

That still doesn't explain why Obama would consider giving her the top job in the cabinet. If she wants out of the Senate - and is there any indication this is so? - then a place on the Supreme Court would seem a safer, more logical (and, granted, more powerful) position. This is supposed to be Obama's Presidency: why give your most high-profile cabinet slot to someone whose mere presence cannot help but challenge and, potentially, undermine the central thrust of your administration: how is Hillary "Change we can believe in"? Well, she ain't. So I can't quite believe this will happen...

Also: what about Bill's relationships with dodgy oligarchs around the world? Much embarassment lies ahead there. 

Still, this is fun, isn't it? Obama hasn't even been sworn in and we're already moving on to speculate on the 2016 election (presuming, I guess, that he'll be pretty easily re-elected in 2012...) At this rate the betting markets will open for 2020 business by the end of the month...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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