So U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has made the predictable move of appointing his Democractic presidential-nominee rival, Hilary Clinton, secretary of state. One can understand the logic behind Mr Obama's move, but I think in the long-term he may well cause more damage to himself than the protection he seeks.
The election of Obama is a watershed event for the United States. Concurrently, Obama's appointment of Hilary Clinton may well provide the break Mrs Clinton needed to ensure that she is elected first female president of the United States, just as Sarah Palin's election to the vice-presidency would have almost certainly paved the way for her eventual (attempted) ascension to the presidency from political obscurity had Republican Senator John McCain's presidential bid been successful. Like Clinton will Obama, Palin would most probably have caused McCain more problems than protection.
In appointing Clinton, Obama has almost certainly facilitated the operation of a powerful "enemy within" his administration, albeit one with a friendly face. Clinton may well become Obama's Gordon Brown, just ask Tony Blair. One can understand Obama's motivation: to ensure the support of the Clintonian wing of his party. However, we all know that Clinton desperately wants to be president. Secretary of state is a position which will allow the former first-lady to meet and deal with powerful people domestically and internationally. There can be little doubt that the new secretary of state will use her position, and the doors it will open, to ensure her ascension, and possibly Obama's downfall if he stands in her way.
By trying to unite the Democrats and ensure partisan loyalty, the president-elect may well have paradoxically ensured disloyalty and facilitated political schemery. Clinton will be in a position to constantly undermine the president whenever subtely feasible. She will be in a position to negotiate with foreign leaders and senior diplomats and domestic figures to build support for herself and play Obama's supporters against themselves. In appointing Hilary Clinton as his secretary of state, Obama may well have set in motion his own downfall and ensured that we will see a female U.S. president in 8 years time. Hilary Clinton will prove to be Obama's wolf in sheep's clothing.