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Rival Team Watch: State Department… um, Department.

Well, I think that the question of whether Senator Clinton’s appointment to SecState was an attempt to neutralize her has been pretty much settled at this point:

Clinton looks to loyalists for State Dept. staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — Preparing for her new role as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton is moving to surround herself with a cast of die-hard loyalists and veterans of her husband’s administration to help her cope with world crises and backstage Washington power plays.

For her team of foreign policy experts, the nation’s third female secretary of state is expected to draw heavily from the staff of the first, Madeleine Albright, who was an early supporter of Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And to deal with internal Obama administration affairs, State Department bureaucratic politics and media pressures, the former first lady appears set to tap current Senate aides and former White House “Hillaryland” stalwarts, whose reputation for insularity and staunch protectiveness has already set off anxiety among career foreign service officers.

Notice the emphasis on rivals both “foreign” and “domestic” on this one: Senator Clinton is clearly positioning herself to be effectively immune to the disapproval of anybody below the level of the President himself.  Which leads to the question: why is Obama letting her do it?  At a guess, he either: doesn’t care; or doesn’t dare.  If it’s the first, then this gives a lot of ammunition to the argument that a lot of Democratic rhetoric on foreign policy changes was just that: rhetoric, and we’re going to be going back to a Clinton-era foreign policy (and any lurkers cheerful about that scenario should remember that part of the nostalga kick could easily include bringing back rendition).  If it’s the second, then we may be seeing the slow strangulation of Hope and Change by Official Washington, right before our very eyes.

Either way, bad news for the cut-and-run people.   Yeah, I’m all broken up about that, too.

Moe Lane

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