Hillary Clinton to State or to Senate Leadership?

I hope she stays, but I think she'll go.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog.

If the MSM is to be believed, Sen. Hillary Clinton will accept President-Elect Obama's offer to become Secretary of State, sometime after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in the Senate are finally paying attention to her vote-getting ability for the party, and are wooing her to stay in the Senate with promises of new leadership posts.

Should she stay or should she go? I think she will go but I wish she would stay.

If she goes, she'll be able to accomplish more for third-world women than for middle- and low-income women and families here at home—the backbone of her 18 million votes of support she received during the primaries. Clinton has commanded enormous influence on the international stage as a women's rights advocate ever since her globe-trotting days as first lady and her appearance at the U.N. Conference on Women's Rights in Beijing, China in 1995. It was there she delivered her oft-quoted speech equating women's rights with human rights.

If she stays, she will at minimum remain a voice for herself versus a surrogate for the Obama administration. At best she could negotiate some highly influential leadership post for herself, which the party and Democrats in the Senate more than owe her following her history-making run.

In particular, a friend said, Mrs. Clinton was upset when the leadership rejected the possibility of her heading a special new task force with a staff and a mandate to develop legislation expanding health care coverage.

In dismissing the idea, Senate leaders noted that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, chairman of the health committee, planned to play the leading role in shaping a plan for universal coverage even as he battles brain cancer. In the current Congress, Mrs. Clinton is eighth in seniority among Democrats on Mr. Kennedy's committee. From the New York Times:

Senate Democrats gathered Tuesday to re-elect their leadership ... without offering any of the top slots to Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Reid told those at the closed-door meeting that he was looking for a way to create a new leadership role for her, two people who were in the room said. The same day, Mr. Kennedy also chose her to head one of three health care working groups looking at legislation.

Kennedy, whose personal relationship with the Clintons has dominated his public treatment of Sen. Clinton, owes her much more than that. IMHO she should use the club of the State position to get him to create a stewardship role for her in health care reform.

Will she do that? Stay tuned.

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