In spite of the somewhat puerile and inflammatory reporting of every little ebb and flow of the protracted negotiations surrounding Senator Clinton's imminent appointment as Secretary of State it seems the main actors in this unfolding development, Obama, Hillary and Bill, have conducted their respective roles with sobriety, meticulous attention to detail and unflinching good will which is at once apparently 'out of character' and yet indicative of a serious common purpose.
And while we are presented with commentary, much of it dissenting, from both the Obama and Clinton camps, it seems increasingly clear that the 'political' aspects to this unexpected appointment are not the motivation nor the cause of the lengthy deliberations in this process.
Here is a possible scenario which refutes or avoids most of the 'pros and cons' being debated publicly on the subject, and while it draws a long bow it has some inherent logic which may go a long way to explain both the motivations and issues surrounding this otherwise counter-intuitive offer. It is premised on the following assumptions, that:
1. Unravelling the Gordian Knot of a durable and lasting Israeli/Palestinian settlement is the key to resolving the global conflict between Islamic militancy and the worldwide trend toward liberal democracy.
2. The differences between Senator Obama's and Senator Clinton's foreign policy, and that of their respective camps, while seeming to lose their distinctions in the posturing of the latter stages of the primary campaign are genuine and represent a clear schism in Democratic policy.
3. The conservative hard-line positions and concerns of the Israeli right and AIPAC, which arguably has a disproportionate influence in both nations with which it is affiliated, must be assuaged and that only trusted actors would be acceptable to achieve a serious and permanent settlement
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that a Israeli/Palestinian solution is at the heart of this appointment there could be a powerful pressure brought to bear on Israel with Hillary's bona fides as a relatively conservative but powerful voice for American constituencies who might come to understand that a settlement there is our best chance to a successful prosecution of the 'war' on terrorism, as Hendirk Hertzberg notes:
The team of Barack "Grandpa Was a Muslim" Obama, Hillary "I'm a Clinton" Clinton, and Rahm "Israel" Emanuel (that's his real middle name! and he was a volunteer with the I.D.F. during the 1991 Gulf War!), with Joe Biden and Bill Clinton pitching in as necessary, would put the new Administration in an extremely powerful position to apply the kind of pressure that would give Israeli politicians the political cover they need to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. Everyone knows what the deal would look like, including Ehud Olmert. It's a question of having the political strength and exerting the will to make it happen.
Of course, the path could get awfully bumpy if the Palestinians can't manage to get their act together, and if, as seems probable, Bibi Netanyahu wins the next Israeli election. On the other hand, a settlement to which Bibi was a party would likely be as durable as Menachem Begin's peace treaty with Egypt.
Hendirk Hertzberg - The 'A' Team The New Yorker 20 Nov 08
One might further assume that that this overarching policy initiative was part of the challenging offer formally made to Hillary from the outset and that the conditions for her appointment include agreement that this is a prize for which the setting aside of 'political' considerations is worthwhile and that the uniting of their respective reputations and political allegiances in common cause pays significant dividends. It may even be argued that neither could achieve such an ambitious outcome without the other.
In this context much of the speculation, leaked opinions and mundane political machinations publicly aired in the past week seem petty and unimportant. One can easily understand the difficult choice presented to Hillary and admire her for rising to the occasion, along with her husband, to take the opportunity presented to genuinely share the accomplishment, clearly on her own merits, of such a momentous objective.
And while this is clearly supposition it does seem consistent with President-elect Obama's long standing theme of putting aside 'old' politics in the interest of pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing the US and resolving them for our mutual benefit using all the myriad resources at our disposal, irrespective of partisan positions, mundane ambitions and ideologies.