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Clinton-Obama détente: From top rival to top aide

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Elisabeth Bumiller
IHT
Sunday, Nov 23, 2008

The thaw in the resentful relationship between the most powerful woman in the Democratic Party and her younger male rival began at the party’s convention this summer, when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave such a passionate speech supporting Senator Barack Obama that his top aides leapt out of their chairs backstage to give her a standing ovation as she swept past.

Obama, who was in the first steps of what would become a strategic courtship, called afterward to thank her. By then, close aides to Clinton said, she had come to respect the campaign Obama had run against her. At the least, she knew he understood like no one else the brutal strains of their epic primary battle.

By this past Thursday, when Obama reassured Clinton that she would have direct access to him and could select her own staff as secretary of state, the wooing was complete.

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“She feels like she’s been treated very well in the way she’s been asked,” said a close associate of Clinton, who like others interviewed asked for anonymity because the nomination will not be formally announced until after Thanksgiving.

Few are predicting that this new relationship born of mutual respect and self-interest will grow into a tight bond between the new president and the woman who will be the public face of his foreign policy around the world, though some say it is not impossible. They argue that a close friendship between those in those powerful roles is useful but not essential, and is not a predictor of the success of the nation’s chief diplomat.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

While James Baker III was extraordinarily close to the first President George W. Bush and is widely considered one of the most successful recent secretaries of state, Dean Acheson was not a friend of President Harry Truman and Henry Kissinger did not particularly like Richard Nixon.

“Two of the nation’s greatest secretaries of state in the modern period, Dean Acheson and Henry Kissinger, were not personally close but were intellectually bonded to their presidents,” said Walter Isaacson, the author of a biography of Kissinger and of the book “The Wise Men,” a history of America’s postwar foreign policy establishment. “I think that Obama and Clinton could form a perfect partnership based on respect for each other’s view of the world.”

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This article was posted: Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 5:48 am





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