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.
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 But the happy historical reference glosses over the ill-feeling of the 2008 primaries.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. …