Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hillary It Is for Secretary of State

After a couple of weeks of rumours, negotiaions and press leaks, Hillary It Is for Secretary of State of the United States under Barack Obama. A deal was worked out this weekend with former President Bill Clinton over his post White House work and it helped clear the way for Hillary Rodham Clinton to join President-elect Barack Obama's national security team as secretary of state, reshaping a bitter rivalry into a strategic and diplomatic union.

Obama was to be joined by the New York senator at a Chicago news conference Monday, Democratic officials said, where he also planned to announce that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would remain in his job for a year or more and that retired Marine General James M. Jones would serve as national security adviser.

To make it possible for his wife to become the top US diplomat former President Clinton agreed to disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997 and all contributors going forward and to refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference.

He also agreed to cease holding CGI meetings overseas as well as to volunteer to step away from daily management of the foundation while his wife is secretary of state. Bill Clinton will submit his speaking schedule to review by the State Department and White House counsel and submit any new sources of income to a similar ethical review.

Bill Clinton's business deals and global charitable endeavors had been expected to create problems for the former first lady's nomination. But in negotiations with the Obama transition team, the former president agreed to several measures designed to bring transparency to those activities.

"It's a big step," said Senator Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who plans to vote to confirm Clinton.

The former president long had refused to disclose the identities of contributors to his foundation, saying many gave money on condition that they not be identified.
Lugar said there would still be "legitimate questions" raised about the former president's extensive international involvement. "I don't know how, given all of our ethics standards now, anyone quite measures up to this who has such cosmic ties, but ... hopefully, this team of rivals will work," Lugar said.

Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton was an extraordinary gesture of good will after a year in which the two rivals competed for the Democratic nomination in a long, bitter primary battle. They clashed repeatedly on foreign affairs. Obama criticized Clinton for her vote to authorize the Iraq war. Clinton said Obama lacked the experience to be president and she chided him for saying he would meet with leaders of nations such as Iran and Cuba without conditions.

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