Hillary Clinton Wins By Losing

It’s a funny thing about Hillary Clinton- she’s the most powerful also ran there ever was. And no doubt much to the consternation of Obama supporters, she’s never gonna really go away in the political sense; next to beating a Clinton in a race, the hardest thing might be having one lose to you.

I’m not suggesting that Hillary Clinton is a sore or vindictive loser. She doesn’t need to be. I also don’t think it’s an integral part of her personality to be vindictive. Bill, probably. I’d worry if I lost to Bill Clinton without Hillary around to keep him in line. But think of it…when Al Gore had the presidency snatched away from him by the Supreme Court in 2000, he quietly drifted off into Laureate land; the only thing you heard from him for much of Bush’s first term was that he’d grown a beard and put on weight. John Kerry similarly returned to the Senate and laid low like a good loser should. John McCain is already becoming part of the past…the only guy who hung out with him on his return to Capitol Hill was Kerry. Such it is with the loser, and such it should be. But not so with Hillary.

Now, I supported Hillary. I’m a New Yorker and quite proud to have her as my Senator. I was angry with that Illinois upstart who snatched away what was rightfully hers. When she lost I spent at least a whole afternoon screaming that I’d vote for McCain. (actually, people like me may have really helped Obama win by making McCain think there was actually a chance that we would be bitter enough to switch allegiance out of spite and thereby screwing up his campaign strategy). Of course, I’ve long since become an Obama convert. He really is an amazing man. But that doesn’t mean that I can just forget about the Senator from New York. She really does deserve something to acknowledge everything she’s done.

Of course, now that there’s been even a hint that President-elect Obama might offer her Secretary of State, he almost has to, even if she turns it down, just to placate her supporters. Personally, I’d love it if she took it until a seat on the Supreme Court opened up. But being a popular Senator from New York is a good gig too, and she may not want a Cabinet post. She could be as powerful an ally in the Senate as anywhere else.

She could also be a problem too. She wouldn’t have to toe the Administration line and could influence policy in a way she couldn’t as part of the team. Losing has put her in a win/win situation. If she serves and things screw up, Obama bears the brunt of the blame. Even if the economy completely collapses, it’s a fair call that international relations will still improve…after all, the bar she has to overcome is George W Bush…and she’ll still look good. If she doesn’t get an offer to serve then Obama loses the goodwill of her supporters, a powerful bloc. And if she gets an offer but turns it down, she’s still a powerful Senator from New York. Wow.

So I’m not too worried about Hillary, she’ll be fine. Of course, if she needs my advice, she can always get in touch with me. Judging from my inbox, she still has my email.