The Team of Rivals Thing: For Barack Obama, Forgiveness Has Few Bounds If It Means He Can Surround Himself with the Best People-And That Includes a Former Enemy, Hillary Clinton

By MacGillis, Alec | New Statesman (1996), December 1, 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Team of Rivals Thing: For Barack Obama, Forgiveness Has Few Bounds If It Means He Can Surround Himself with the Best People-And That Includes a Former Enemy, Hillary Clinton


MacGillis, Alec, New Statesman (1996)


So unapologetically giddy is Washington about Barack Obama's likely selection of Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state--with all the entertaining musings about gender and generational power dynamics and about Bill's role that this would provide--that it is easy to overlook how remarkable this turnabout is.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

There have been many knowing allusions to Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin's account of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet of former antagonists. But the happy historical reference glosses over the ill-feeling of the 2008 primaries. Think of Hillary's mockery of Obama's rhetoric ("Now I could stand up here and say, 'Let's just get everybody together. Let's get unified. The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect," she once riffed, voice viscous with scorn) or of her use of the very culture-war tropes that John McCain would adopt against Obama--"links" with a former radical, her appeal to "hard-working Americans, white Americans".

It is true that one difference between the two has been overstated: Obama's willingness to meet "without preconditions" with enemy leaders. Clinton hammered this as "irresponsible and frankly naive", but it boiled down to a semantic dispute. Still, the campaign exposed a genuine difference in world-views. Obama's opposition to the Iraq War was couched in a broader argument that Democrats could be tough and smart about national security without always looking over their shoulder at the Republicans, as many liberals felt Clinton had done in voting to authorise force in Iraq. That, as Obama often put it, "I don't want to just end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place"--an argument further fuelled by Clinton's vote to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist force. And there were nasty disputes about experience--Clinton ridiculed Obama's claims to insight from living abroad and said he lacked readiness for the "3am phone call", while Obama belittled first-lady teas and said she had exaggerated her role in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

Now, Clinton is poised to carry out the foreign policy agenda that Obama's campaign defined by its break from the strictures that bound her thinking. Cynics see a Machiavellian move--to remove Clinton from the Senate, where she could undermine him, to a slot where she (and Bill) must work with or for him. Others wonder whether Obama now sees less of a policy gap with Clinton. Andrew Bacevich, a Boston University professor and leading conservative critic of the Iraq War, says that Obama has moved towards Clinton's more conventional outlook with his call for sending more troops to Afghanistan.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Team of Rivals Thing: For Barack Obama, Forgiveness Has Few Bounds If It Means He Can Surround Himself with the Best People-And That Includes a Former Enemy, Hillary Clinton
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?