There's a lot to consider when it comes to whether Hillary Clinton would make a good secretary of state. First of all, to those who are saying Clinton's support for the Iraq war should disqualify her, I'd urge them to take a deep breath. John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and almost everybody else being considered for the job also initially supported the war. And while they have taken the step Hillary never did and called that vote a mistake, it's important to remember that by the time of the 2008 primary, Hillary and Obama were running on essentially the same Iraq platform — a phased withdrawal and renewed focus on fighting terrorist groups on the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Inside, Hillary will always be that good girl, straight A student. And I say this as one good girl to another — if given a formal role in the Obama administration, Hillary would rise to the occasion as a team player. She has a detailed understanding of global conflicts and has met many of the players involved. She'd be greeted enthusiastically around the world, where the only American political phenom who could have possibly overtaken affection for the Clintons was Obama. I'll never forget living in France during 2004 and seeing women on the Paris Metro reading Hillary's memoir in translation, absolutely engrossed. Their feelings about her were always less complicated than American women's.
Which brings us to another point in Hillary's favor — her long record of speaking out on international women's rights, dating back to her 1995 address to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, where she famously declared, "Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights."
The downside to Hillary as secretary of state is losing her strong voice for women's issues and health care reform in the Senate, where she has the potential to grow into a kind of Teddy Kennedy figure on domestic policy. But I don't think anybody outside of Hillary's inner circle really knows what level of interest she has in being a "senator for life." There's also the question of whether she could effectively manage a large bureaucracy, considering her messy campaign. Secretary of state is more a figurehead than day-to-day manager, though, and with the right people working for her, I think Hillary could do an admirable job.
cross-posted at TAPPED