Team of Rivals? No, Team of Superstars. Why Obama Tapping Clinton for Secretary of State Makes Sense

Why it makes lots of sense

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Tom Friedman's thoughts on Hillary Clinton's prospective appointment as Barack Obama's secretary of state are typically provocative.

And, in other times, I might agree with him. There is no denying the benefits of a close partnership between a president and a secretary of state, nor the dangers of a flawed or distant relationship.

But these are not other times. Obama is inheriting one stupendous mess, and an American government—from State to Homeland Security to FEMA to Interior to Social Security to Energy and on and on down the list—in dire need of reform.

Obama doesn't need a team of rivals in his cabinet so that, with Machiavellian guile, he can keep his enemies close.

What he needs is a team of political and corporate superstars who, whatever their status—rivals, friends, or strangers—can immediately start fixing stuff.

And whatever you think about Hillary, this is for certain: She's inexhaustible. Smart. Focused. Relentless. Ambitious. She will work like a dog to get the job done. And if her appointment brings additional political benefits, well, let's exploit them, too.

And that, I believe, is the message that Obama is sending with the names of his prospective appointees. The president-elect seems sure enough, and secure enough, to assemble just that kind of highly skilled team.

Obama is not going to have the blessed luxury, enjoyed by George H. W. Bush, of presiding over the collapse of America's deadliest foes. Nor will the economic crisis at home give him the time to play the great game of diplomacy with a bosom buddy, like Bush did with Jim Baker.

It's as simple as this. The new president is going to be inundated with troubles. He's going to need the best help he can get. So sound the alarum. It's all hands to quarters.

  • Click here to read more by John Aloysius Farrell.
  • Click here to read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
  • Click here to read more about the Obama transition.