President Obama desperately needs the Senate to approve START, our nation’s anti-nuclear treaty with Russia. And to get his way, Obama needs Congress’s support, which is why the White House has called on Hillary Clinton to grease the back room wheels. Is this a precursor to 2012?
After missing the mark on a trade deal with South Korea and other foreign policy failures at last week’s G20 summit, the president’s political power seems to be fleeting, and the successful passage of the new START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) could help buoy Obama as the Republican wave moves into Washington.
For the treaty to take effect, however, the Senate has to vote on whether or not to approve Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s deal, made earlier this year.
Since some Senators, specifically Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona, not listening to Obama, the Commander-in-Chief sent in Secretary of State, and former Senator, Clinton, who met with senators earlier this week and publicly declared, “I do hope that the new Congress respects the time-honored tradition of leaving politics at the water’s edge.”
Clinton’s involvement makes sense, of course: she’s our nation’s top diplomat, and her international work helped lay the foundation for the fresh START. Her past work in the Senate, where she cultivated bipartisan friendships, also makes her a perfect fit for some arm twisting.
As Clinton said herself, “Even in the last 20 months, when we were in the majority, I reached out to Republicans all the time,” and the Obama administration’s clearly confident Clinton can get the job done. Whether this will be the end of the story remains to be seen.
There have been rumors even before the 2008 election that Obama would at some point switch Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden’s positions, taking on his former rival as a running mate in 2012. Those rumors were revived last month, when Bob Woodward claimed an Obama-Clinton ticket was “on the table” forcing officials to shoot down the chatter. “It’s not anything that’s being discussed,” insisted Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Clinton, meanwhile, came out to say, “I have absolutely no interest and no reason for doing anything other than dismissing these stories and moving on. [Biden and I] have so much to do and I think we’re both happy doing what we’re doing.”
No way the President’s men and women would come out to confirm those rumors, and it’s clear the President’s relying heavily on Clinton’s relationships on Capitol Hill to help him knock down Republican opposition. By laying roots now, the White House could be helping pave the way for more of Clinton’s involvement during the next legislative session, especially if START doesn’t get a vote before the current Congress dissolves at the end of the year.
Obama and his team aren’t to be counted out, no, but there’s little doubt the President is going to have to shake things up before running for reelection.
Replacing Biden (who’s nearly as under the radar as Dick Cheney was but with a more dynamic, beloved face) could be just the ticket to winning a second term, and Clinton’s one of the Democratic party’s greatest icons, one who has already proven she has the popular support to rally voters.
This Russian START mission may be a test to see if the Secretary of State has the chops to be Obama right-hand woman.