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 Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: the transition from rivals to allies

Jon Rapoport (LA Democrat Examiner)

It has been nothing short of remarkable to witness what appears to be a very strong and close relationship between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. These formerly bitter rivals, during the 2008 Democratic Primaries, are now joined at the hip regarding the current administration's foreign relations initiatives. It seems like ancient history, but one only has to recall back to just over a year ago, when things were not quite as chipper between these two very notable figures.

Remember the Clinton Campaign’s use of the infamous “3 a.m.” commercial, which attempted to question the qualification and experience level of then Senator Obama? Or former President Bill Clinton’s controversial remarks regarding Jesse Jackson winning of the '84 and '88 South Carolina Primary, in which Clinton seemingly tried to claim that the victories of both Jackson and Obama were for the same exact reasons.

What about the famous “shame on you” speech delivered by then Senator Clinton regarding a health care mailer distributed by the Obama Campaign shortly before the Ohio Primary? The list goes on and on regarding the bitter sniping that took place throughout the campaign from the Clinton Camp towards the Obama Camp.
For his part, Sen. Obama repeated claims that Sen. Clinton was not always truthful and forthright regarding her record during the campaign. Obama also continually questioned Clinton's explanations regarding her authorization vote for the Iraq War.

“You know I opposed this war in Iraq from the start. But one of my opponents [Clinton] is trying to rewrite history,” said Obama while campaigning in early 2008.

After the bitter and seemingly unending primary, the resolution of the long standing Florida and Michigan Primaries controversy and the conclusion of the pursuit for Superdelegates, Sen. Obama finally came away the winner.

To her credit, Sen. Clinton quickly accepted the defeat and subsequently became a fervent advocate for the future President. Her most stirring and notable speech took place on the second night of the Democratic National Convention last August in Denver. From that point on, Sen. Clinton made it abundantly clear that the proper move for her 18 million supporters was to vote for Sen. Obama in the November election. Many of these supporters were still unhappy because Sen. Obama declined to offer Sen. Clinton the opportunity to be his running mate, instead selecting Sen. Joe Biden.

It turned out that President Obama had another prominent and public role in mind for Sen. Clinton. The role of Secretary of State, the chief international representative and spokesperson for the United States Government.

Sunday, while appearing on ABC's “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Mrs. Clinton explained her rationale for accepting the President's offer.

“Ultimately, it came down to my feeling that, number one, when your president asks you to do something for your country, you really need a good reason not to do it. Number two, if I had won and I had asked him to please help me serve our country, I would have hoped he would say yes. And, finally, I looked around our world and I thought, you know, we are in just so many deep holes that everybody had better grab a shovel and start digging out.”

Since Mrs. Clinton assumed her position, it is quite safe to say that her views have been in lock step with that of the President. The most notable example of this is the administration's belief that Israel should halt further expansion of settlements into the West Bank, while simultaneously articulating the United States unwavering support for the state of Israel.

Mrs. Clinton has also been front and center with President Obama during their recent trip to Egypt and their earlier participation in April's G20 Summit in London. In fact, there's very telling photos of the two receiving a private tour of the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo.

Stateside, there is also a very unique photo of the two of them conversing outdoors at a White House picnic table. Either they are Academy Award winning actors, or they just happen to get along very well despite their past differences.

The brilliance of the President's decision to appoint Mrs. Clinton is twofold:

First, in terms of experience, knowledge of the key issues and relationships with foreign governments, particularly in the Middle East, Mrs. Clinton compares favorably to any other potential candidate for this position.

Second, the union of these two Democratic Party Goliaths has almost completely unified the party and it has eliminated any bitterness associated with the primary campaign.

As for the “3 a.m.” commercial, Mrs. Clinton explained her current feelings regarding if the President is able to handle a “middle of the night” crisis, during Sunday's ABC interview.

“Absolutely, and you know, the President, in his public actions and demeanor, and certainly in private with me and with the national security team, has been strong, thoughtful, decisive. I think he's doing a terrific job. And it's an honor to serve with him.”

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