Will Hillary Clinton get the job or not?

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : The guessing game continues. Will Hillary Clinton get the job of President-elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State or not?

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Those in the prediction markets think it’s in the bag for her. Others suggest it may well depend on a review of the business activities of her husband, former president Bill Clinton. But the Obama transition team is mum on her chances.

Obama met his vanquished rival for Democratic nomination last Thursday to discuss the top diplomatic job as he searches for the right people to join his administration when he assumes the presidency Jan 20.

Hillary Clinton is said to be interested in the job, but before an offer is made, Obama’s transition team is reported to be reviewing Bill Clinton’s post-White House work to whether his international philanthropic and business dealings would pose a conflict of interest.

With royalties from writing books and fees for giving speeches, he is estimated to have built a fortune worth about $100 million since handing over the reins of power to President George W. Bush in January 2001.

He has played the role of roving ambassador, and his William Jefferson Clinton Foundation has raised millions of dollars from around the world to combat AIDS, malaria and global warming.

“I think the only issue going forward prospectively is whether the former president is willing to do less than he is currently doing,” Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, a Clinton backer, was quoted as saying. “Obviously he has a lot of business around the world and it seems to me he is willing to do less.”

The Washington Times, however, suggested Obama’s choice for Secretary of State is a “high-stakes game with the potential to disappoint or anger powerful Democrats” as it would leave the other possible contenders with “bruised egos”.

The 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, for one, ushered Obama onto the national stage by asking him to make the keynote speech at his nomination convention. An early supporter of Obama, he also campaigned for him across the country.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson too “took a gamble and endorsed Obama despite drawing wrath from Democratic insiders who felt he was being disloyal” to the Clintons because he served in the Clinton Cabinet.

“The irony of the situation is both Bill Richardson and John Kerry faced enormous criticism from Clinton supporters for endorsing Obama and there’s a good chance that she will get the position they both want,” the Times cited Boston-based political strategist James Boyce.

The Times also cited an unnamed former Clinton aide as saying that the public speculation creates an awkward position for Obama because it seems “the Clinton people put it into the public domain prematurely and have created a pickle”.

Asked on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday whether Hillary Clinton was on a “short list” for a cabinet selection, Obama said she is “somebody who I needed advice and counsel from”, adding: “She is one of the most thoughtful public officials that we have. Beyond that, you’re not getting anything out of me.”

Meanwhile in another move, Eric Holder, who was a deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, has accepted Obama’s conditional offer to be US attorney general, media reports said citing a Democratic source.

Holder, 57, who served as Obama’s campaign co-chairman, would be the first African-American to head the Justice Department.

Holder would join several other veterans of the Clinton administration who have already signed on to the Obama team, including White House counsel Greg Craig, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Ronald Klain, chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden.