The rumors are circulating that Barack Obama has asked Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state in his administration. The past eight years have witnessed a president who only appointed people who shared his views and intimidated anyone who dared express an opposing viewpoint. It was common knowledge that Condi Rice would cast her views in a manner that ensured the president thought she agreed with his ideas even when she opposed them. Barack Obama is restoring the concept that presidents should have divergent viewpoints in the Cabinet in order to expand the range of ideas he encounters.
Hillary Clinton is a powerful person and she will not hesitate telling the president that his ideas are wrong. She also enjoys the trust and confidence of leaders throughout the world who respect her as an intelligent person who can listen and discuss issues with intelligence. For example, President Sarkozy a few days ago told President Medvedev of Russia that Bush’s idea for missile defenses in Poland only made the situation worse in Europe and created tension. A Hillary Clinton can engage in discussions with a Sarkozy and be able to present to the president reasons why world leaders disagree with his proposals.
The proposed Clinton appointment means the presidency has once again become a center of intellectual ferment rather than a closed society of yea sayers. The life of the mind will be welcomed in an Obama administration and intellectuals will be asked to share ideas. Just imagine a government in which Sarah Palin is viewed as someone who has ideas! Hillary Clinton will restore the primacy of the presidency as a center of intellectual ferment. In fact, we will have scientists in power who actually know something about science.