THE BLOG

Obama: Choose Bill Richardson, Lee Hamilton, Dick Lugar, Al Gore or Chuck Hagel -- but not Hillary Clinton -- as your Secretary of State

Dec 19, 2008 | Updated May 25, 2011

The new president-elect will have his hands full when he takes office in January, 2009 withdrawing American forces from Iraq and sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and trying to successfully revive our ailing economy.

Luckily, he will have Vice-President Joe Biden who has an extensive background in foreign policy as his years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Like most administrations before them, foreign policy will be made out of the White House. While President Obama spends his time on an economic stimulus and other domestic concerns Vice-President Biden can be the point person on foreign policy issues.

The new secretary of state will not be the person making foreign policy for the country under President Obama. He or she will be more than a mere figure head but will not be running a power center in the new administration.

So, why spend all this political capital on deciding whether or not Senator Clinton should be invited to be the country's new secretary of state? Why get involved with all the controversies of the past decade with the Clintons when there are much better choices to be considered? Why go back in time and get the country involved with the Clinton family again?

Didn't Obama promise change -- and massive change at that? Already, his senior staff appointments have ties to President Bill Clinton's administration. Shouldn't the new president-elect be moving away from the Clintons and forming his own team of Obama loyalists?

Is Senator Clinton really the best choice for secretary of state? Of course not. It would be a good choice politically to have her in the administration so she is part of the Obama team, but not as secretary of state. Political appointments of previous administrations have ranged from Postmaster General to Secretary of the Interior to the top trade representative at USTR. If Obama is looking for a political position for the New York senator these would be good positions for her many talents.

For Secretary of State New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson would be an excellent choice. He has been involved in foreign affairs from his days as Secretary of Energy to United Nations Ambassador to his many trips abroad as an envoy to trouble spots around the globe.

Other acceptable choices would include former Vice-President Al Gore, who is extremely well versed in foreign policy matters and would bring environmental concerns to the forefront of U.S. policy if he were chosen.

Former congressman Lee Hamilton would also be an excellent choice to be America's new secretary of state, as would fellow Hoosier Senator Dick Lugar. Choosing retiring Republican senator Chuck Hagel would also be a creative choice for Obama. Richard Holbrooke is certainly interested in the position. Senator John Kerry and former Senator Sam Nunn are both qualified candidates for the job as well.

Is there anything to prevent Vice-president Joe Biden from also being the secretary of state in the new administration?

There are qualified people out there without the controversy that would follow Bill and Hillary Clinton. She is a fine senator representing New York and the former president has a very worthwhile foundation that is helping people around the globe. They should stay in their current positions.

President-elect Obama, you have many qualified candidates for secretary of state from Dick Lugar to Lee Hamilton to Al Gore to John Kerry. They and other possibilities would carry out your foreign policy effectively and efficiently without the soap opera moments that always seem to appear with the Clintons.

It is good to have your "team of rivals" under your roof but that does not include giving one of the top and most visible positions in your administration to Senator Clinton. There are other better candidates for the job. Hopefully, you will pick one of them and Senator Clinton can continue her job in the senate. After all, a Supreme Court vacancy may come open during your first term and she should certainly be on the short list for the top court.