The United States Senate voted today, 94-2, to confirm Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
The senator was sworn in as secretary at 5:29 p.m., her office said, and immediately resigned her Senate seat, sending identical one-line letters to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is president of the Senate; to the office of the secretary of the Senate and to New York Gov. David A. Paterson, who has said he will name a replacement soon.
In other words, we have another two days or so to speculate on who it's going to be. So here's some speculation, as completely without foundation as anything you can read anywhere.
It won't be Cuomo. If it were to be him, Shelly would pick the replacement, and while Paterson has had an astonishingly tin ear of late, he probably doesn't want the Speaker to have that much extra power. Caroline Kennedy, despite conflicting poll numbers, remains a good bet; New Yorkers like glamorous electeds, as little as we're actually blessed with them. The dark horse is probably Jerrold Nadler; eminently qualified, and a retail politician you can sell in Oneonta. Carolyn Malonwy might have a shot, if she learned to smile with the upper half of her face. Gregory Meeks, meanwhile, has been in office for over two decades, and nobody knows who he is or why they should care.
At the end of the day, and I stress I have no strong feelings on the subject, my money would be on Kennedy (though the Post reports she's out). She would just be too cinematic to pass by. But Paterson has a sense of mischief, so he may surprise all of us.
Update: Well then, perfect timing: The New York Times says Kennedy is "said to withdraw" her bid (and note that "is said to withdraw" is not "withdraws"), due to her uncle's precarious health. Some say that Paterson was going to name her to the seat tonight.
One aspect of the likely nomination of Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State has been completely overlooked: at a stroke, it removes Barack Obama's only serious, high-powered opposition within the party.
Consider the murmurings during late summer and early fall: that Hillary, if Obama didn't make it, or even if he did, could engage in another run for the top job next time around. That's not going to happen now. By offering her the senior cabinet office, Obama has effectively neutralized his main intra-party rival.
Or consider the question of money. As a Senator, Hillary could raise money to pay off her 2008 campaign debt; as a cabinet officer, she can't.
Then, look at the fate of Secretaries of State going back to Reagan: they get replaced after a single term. Bill Clinton, for example, replaced Warren Christopher with Madeline Albright.
If Hillary takes the job, she's going to wake up one morning in 2013 with no Senate seat, no power base, a big pile of debt, no Secretaryship, in short, nothing at all. Her big issue of healthcare reform, which she could have shaped from the Senate? Somebody else is going to take care of that.
You have to wonder if that's the point.
There are still the usual caveats, but apparently, Senator Clinton has decided to serve in President Obama's cabinet as Secretary of State.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday.[...]
Mrs. Clinton came to her decision after additional discussion with President-elect Barack Obama about the nature of her role and his plans for foreign policy, said one of the confidants, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the situation.
Mr. Obama’s office told reporters on Thursday that the nomination is “on track” but this is the first word from the Clinton camp that she has decided.
“She’s ready,” the confidant said, adding that Mrs. Clinton was reassured after talking again with Mr. Obama because their first meeting in Chicago last week “was so general.” The purpose of the follow-up talk, he noted, was not to extract particular concessions but “just getting comfortable” with the idea of working together.
All right, all you Clinton-haters: get control over yourselves.
Hillary campaigning with Democratic Senator Bill Stachowski (D-Buffalo). In the background are Antoine Thompson, Joe Mesi, Bill Stachowski and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins.
We're seeing something happen these days that's a welcome change from cycles past: Democrats reaching out to our contenders for legislative seats and putting their muscle, and their name, behind the young blood.
For example, Hillary Clinton, not a woman with a particularly open schedule these days, has endorsed - and campaigned for Eric Massa, Dan Maffei, Brian Foley, Kristen McElroy, Don Barber, and others up and down the food chain. Similarly, Governor Paterson - the subject of much grumbling in the political class in the summer due to his attempts to play nice with Skelos - has raised money for Dollinger, Foley, Addabbo, and others. All of this is announced in a daily stream of email releases.
What could bring our normally fractious Democrats together like that? Bright red oozing billows of blood in the water, for one thing; the other side has never had a weaker bench or a worse environment. This is the endgame, the final battle for New York; and I think we're going to win.