After several days of speculation, I still fail to see why Hillary Clinton would want the job as Obama’s Secretary of State.
1) Secretary of State is a more important office when the President does not want to focus much on foreign policy; if he does, then he will concentrate authority in the White House and particular with the National Security Advisor. Obama seems to have very strong ideas on how his foreign policy will operate: that will generally leave Foggy Bottom less important. This means that to the extent that Hillary wants to do something, Steve’s scenario of a circular firing squad seems more likely.
2) A Cabinet position carries power inherently if it has a large and powerful bureaucracy that the Secretary can direct. But that is not the case with State, as opposed to, say, HHS, or even Justice.
3) If Hillary really would want to do something major in terms of national security policy, she should be angling not for State but rather Defense. That has the biggest and most powerful of all bureaucracies; she would make history by becoming the first female in charge of the Pentagon; and she knows something about it, having served on Armed Services for 8 years.
4) Since this hasn’t been mentioned, I’m assuming that Obama is going to keep Gates on for several months.
5) One might think that Sec Def is a poisoned chalice, because it means extracting US forces from Iraq. Perhaps true, but the new Iraqi resolution on the SOFA makes this something less of a problem.
6) The other place where Hillary would be extraordinarily qualified would, of course, be the Justice Department. Again, no talk of this.
7) Putting Hillary in charge of DOJ, and the prosecutorial power, might be a little too risky, even if we buy (as Steve and I do not) that the “team of rivals” philosophy is applicable.
8) This suggests to me that Obama might be trying to sideline her. But then why would she accept it?