Clinton should accept position of secretary of state

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U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D−N.Y.) is considering whether to become secretary of state in the Obama administration, assuming it is offered to her. She has represented us for the last eight years in the Senate, although at least for the first six months of this year, most of her time was geared toward running for the presidency.

In terms of her political career, being secretary of state would be beneficial if she is still interested in running for president in the future.

In the early days of our nation, the position of secretary of state was the gateway to the White House. For example:

• Thomas Jefferson served as secretary of state in the Washington administration and went on to become president in 1801.

• James Madison served as secretary of state during the Jefferson administration and became president in 1809.

• James Monroe served as secretary of state during the Madison administration and became president in 1817.

• John Quincy Adams served as secretary of state in the Monroe administration and became president in 1824.

• Martin Van Buren of New York served as secretary of state during the Jackson administration and became president in 1837.

There is another side to this opportunity for Clinton, however, which should also be explored. William Jennings Bryan ran as the Democratic candidate for president three times and lost each time. He became secretary of state during the early part of the Wilson administration.

He had a policy disagreement with President Wilson over the United States taking steps to support the Allies in World War I. It became such a major dispute that Bryan resigned as secretary of state.

President−elect Barack Obama and Clinton have in the past expressed different positions on a wide range of foreign policy issues. If they had a major dispute over an important issue and Clinton felt compelled to resign because of it, she will be without public office entirely, which could have a negative impact on her future career.

Presently, if Clinton resigns her Senate seat to become secretary of state, then Gov. David Paterson will have to name a replacement. He will, of course, be choosing a Democrat, and the name of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has come up as a possible choice.

Andrew Cuomo spent much of his early life growing up in Queens, with his father, Mario Cuomo, serving as governor for three terms. Queens served as Mario Cuomo’s political base during that time.

Another possible choice from Queens who could be considered is City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills) of the 29th Council District. She has been a successful attorney and in 1995 was listed by the Daily News as one of the 100 up−and−coming young leaders of the 21st century.

Presently, she is preparing to run for city comptroller next year. Among her other accomplishments is a strong background in city finance matters, which is very important in this time of economic crisis. She has, in addition to serving on the Council, also served in the state Assembly, giving her added legislative experience.

Queens has served as a political base for other past major candidates, such as Democratic U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who ran for vice president in 1984.

If Clinton becomes secretary of state, it will give her far more political exposure than she could possibly have in the Senate. It will add to her experience in foreign policy and give her more creditability as a possible future presidential candidate. All of this is based on her performing well in this vitally important cabinet position.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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