Altered State
How surreal was Barack Obama’s official national security team unveiling this morning? I must say that after spending almost two years watching Obama and Hillary Clinton ridicule each other’s foreign policy/national security credentials on a daily basis, it was remarkable to hear Senator Clinton talk about how honored she was to join the Obama Administration as Secretary of State. It wasn’t all that long ago, before the current economic crisis and military success of the Surge in Iraq, that Obama’s principal claim to the Democratic nomination was that he had the judgment to oppose the Iraq War, whereas Clinton did not. Yet there they both were this morning in a joint appearance completely devoid of the campaign theatrics we had previously come to expect from their encounters.
I understand all of the reasons given for why Clinton could be an excellent Secretary of State, and that may very well turn out to be the case. But the whole kabuki of this morning still made me smile, particularly as several reporters tried to rehash the duo’s old battles in the Q&A. In response, Obama spoke of how differences get magnified in the heat of the campaign season, and then wisely focused instead on their shared vision. It is true that politicians play predictably adversarial roles during the campaign, ones which are often quite different than those they are expected to fill when governing. As a friend pointed out to me shortly after the press conference, this transformation in the relationship between Obama and Clinton really began back around the time of the Democratic convention in August. What we are seeing now is a cementing of those new governing roles.

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