Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On loan from the Clinton museum?

At first blush it seems odd that Obama's alleged offer of the Secretary of State position to Hillary Clinton -- allegedly contingent on a smooth vetting process -- would play itself out so publicly. Why would Obama allow the idea to take hold if there were a risk that Bill Clinton would balk at opening the kimono -- or at closing the spigot to his Foundation (and himself) for the duration?

This report from Marc Ambinder brings a memory flash:

The vetting of Hillary Clinton is ongoing, delicate, sensitive and private -- but not, according to people with direct knowledge of the work, acrimonious.

Despite press reports about former President Bill Clinton's resistance to turn over information about his income sources, international business dealings and foundation donors, he has instructed Cheryl Mills, the long-time Clinton lawyer overseeing the liaison with Obama's team, to collect and turn over everything requested by Obama's vetters.

Bill Clinton has also indicated, according to sources, that he would be willing to step down as the functional leader of his foundation for the duration of his wife's tenure in the Obama administration. He would readily agree, these sources say, to disclose any new sources of income and submit his speaking schedule -- and his speeches -- to State Department officials in advance.

Remember that meeting between Obama and Bill back in mid-September? Could there have been a mite of transition planning? True, it was just about Obama's darkest polling hour, but Bill took the occasion to call the election pretty precisely: "I predict that Senator Obama will win and will win pretty handily"...

Idle speculation, sure. But it seems reasonable to assume that before the rumors flew, the Obama team was reasonably certain that the Clintons would cooperate with the vetting and rulemaking for Bill's activities going forward. On paper, anyway.

On the other hand, never assume that those in control are in control.

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