OBAMA'S CO-OPT CITY: Making Sense of Hillary as SecState
• Disarm would-be sabateurs with some hawks in the crow's nest?
GET POLITICAL w/ VIC LIVINGSTON
Well, you know the old saying: "When I'm wrong, I'm really wrong." And when Get Political predicted that Hillary Clinton would not accept an offer from President-elect Obama to become secretary of state -- and that Barack Obama would never proffer such an offer -- this column was doubly wrong!
But we, like many commentators, remain puzzled as to why Obama would invite the Clinton circus to come parading into his tent. Is it because, as former President Lyndon Johnson once famously said, he'd rather have his political enemies inside his tent p***ing out, instead of outside, p***ing in?
Or is there another, more subtle and complex rationale for Obama's open embrace of Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincolnesque "team of rivals" approach to cabinet-making?
It could be a little bit of both. Here's our favorite theory (and it is only a theory) as to why Obama would take on as his chief diplomat a steely, obdurate opponent whose foreign affairs bona fides he openly derided during the primary campaign:
In choosing Hillary, along with the retention of Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the selection of former Marine commandant Jim Jones as his national security advisor, Barack Obama has acted decisively to co-opt and disarm a potential silent coup that could bring down his presidency or insidiously subvert it from within.
Obama, we are led to believe, has come to know that hard-right ideologues within some powerful federal agencies have hijacked programs intended to "keep America safe," using bureaucratic clout to stifle individuals and groups deemed as threats to their peculiar world view.
Obama's consiglieri, the street-savvy Vice President-elect Joe Biden, knows well the sinister forces that could stand in the path of a successful Obama presidency.
Hence, Obama's cunning, co-opting personnel moves: the decision to keep Gates at Defense (and with Gates comes the Bush Pentagon's joint chiefs chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Iraq war architect Gen. David Patraeus); the appointment of former Marine top honcho Jones as his national security advisor; and, to complete the insurance policy against seditious acts, the installation of Hillary as SecState -- gaining Obama the active support of a former President with a demonstrated ability to survive all sorts of political intrigues.
So Obama's got the power players from two presidencies, one Democratic, one Republican, to do his bidding -- offering greater assurance that the apparachiks of the vast federal bureaucracy won't stand as an impediment to his "New Beginning" -- the likely Rooseveltian moniker of the Obama administration.
While the pundits focus on the "team of rivals" strategy as Obama's way to exploit the talents of "the best and the brightest," there's a more Machievellian explanation: Obama has a pressing need to consolidate his power as he attempts to govern a nation in which officially-countenanced "extrajudicial targeting" threatens to supplant the judicial system and the rule of law.
Some political observers believe that members of citizen vigilante groups could have been those responsible for ugly scenes at campaign rallies of John McCain and Sarah Palin -- angry mobsters shouting epithets such as "Kill him!" and "Traitor!" when Barack Obama was accused by "Sarracuda" of "palling around with terrorists."
Surely such invective blipped loudly on Obama's political radar screen. And what better way to deflect the flak from his haters inside and outside of government than to bring into his inner circle officials formerly considered to be war hawks?
And while Obama made it clear that while he seeks a "vigorous debate" in his White House, he also declared that once the arguments are made, it is he, as commander in chief, who will have the final say.
It was a sterling performance for a rookie executive with scant foreign affairs experience -- a demonstration of the leadership skills that propelled him on his self-described "improbable journey" to the presidency.
Some thorny issues remain. Obama didn't roll out his presumptive director of national intelligence during the security team unveiling -- perhaps a sign that reining in that fractionalized "community" could prove to be a perilous task.
But in the view of most of the pundits, and even some of his most vociferous critics on the right, the maiden voyage of Obama's ship of state was met with smooth seas -- crewed by a team of rivals that makes Lincoln's cabinet look like an old boy's club.
BUT WILL THE ELECTION REALLY MATTER? Not as long as citizen vigilantes are engaged in officially-sanctioned "extrajudicial targeting":
OR members.nowpublic.com/scrivener RE: "American Gestapo"