Word that President-elect Barack Obama is vetting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., for secretary of state has set off a furious flurry of chatter. Some laud Mr. Obama for possibly re-creating the team of rivals favored by Abraham Lincoln. Others think it's a mistake bordering on heresy, if you listen to some of Mr. Obama's more ardent supporters, to reward a former rival who brings with her a lot of baggage - and a globe-trotting husband and former president who's carrying much of it. Ms. Clinton strikes us as well qualified for the job. But that's not quite the end of the question.
In part, the bubbling backlash against her reflects concern about the number of former Clinton administration officials tapped for transition roles or White House jobs. This is silly. To insist on a government that has no experience would serve neither the incoming president nor a nation beset by problems.
Choosing Ms. Clinton would show that Mr. Obama is confident enough to surround himself with smart and capable people. As first lady and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she has learned the potency and perils of hard and soft power alike.
But if Mr. Obama chooses Ms. Clinton, he'll get Mr. Clinton. And this is where critics of the Clintons, and even their supporters, have legitimate concerns. Some of these are backward-looking, regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars that Mr. Clinton has raised for his presidential library and foundation, including from foreign governments, foreign individuals and others with an interest in foreign affairs. We have long argued that presidents, sitting or retired, should not be permitted to collect this sort of secret cash for their libraries. The imperative for disclosure is even greater in the case of the Clintons because of Ms. Clinton's continuing involvement in public life. If Ms. Clinton is to serve as the nation's chief diplomat, the nation is entitled to know what foreign interests have donated generously to help her husband.
- Washington Post
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