Does Hillary Clinton really want to be Salmon Chase?

I doubt it.

UK reporters tend to be rather fanciful in their accounts of U.S. politics, so there’s every reason to hope that the report from the Leonard Doyle in the Independent about the negotiations between HRC and BHO about staffing the State Department reflects a strong imagination rather than good sources.

If it were true it would be hard to figure out which player had made the bigger blunder: Clinton for demanding that she be allowed to staff the State Department with her own loyalists, or Obama for agreeing.

Obama’s lack of interest in getting revenge on his defeated opponents is a welcome change from the recent past. But if he had a similar lack of interest in rewarding his friends, that wouldn’t speak well of his ethics or his judgment. As for Clinton, a Secretary of State known to be on the outs with the White House has relatively little power. Clinton ought to want to have a couple of strong Obama loyalists around her, or she’s going to keep losing fights with the National Security Adviser.

Given the choice of believing either that two savvy players agreed to make an appalling mistake and or that a British journalist got a Washington story completely wrong, it seems to me that William of Ockham would bet on sloppy journalism rather than stupid politics.

At least, I hope so.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: