Almost as soon as Hillary Clinton was named as President Obama's choice for his Secretary of State, the rumor mill began to churn and much was made of the "team of rivals" approach (a reference to a book about President Lincoln's cabinet, written by Doris Kearns Goodwin), which many pundits believed described Obama's cabinet selections.
Of all of Obama's cabinet choices, none garnered more attention and commentary from the media and pundit class than his former campaign rival, Hillary Clinton. While this was understandable to an extent, the Beltway crowd seemed to delight in the prospect of being able to cover continued bickering, spotlight-stealing and possible turf wars between the two former rivals. Add to this the fact that many of Clinton's 18 million supporters (of which I was/am, proudly, one) were not entirely pleased with the idea of her becoming Obama's Secretary of State and questioned his motives for selecting her. Let's be honest, when a Clinton is involved, the media tend to assume the worst, even if the facts end up indicating otherwise.
We are a little over seven months into this administration, and there is little indication that media predictions about major policy differences and infighting between President Obama and Secretary Clinton have come to fruition. That said, it has hardly stopped the mainstream media or the blogosphere from creating controversy despite there being little evidence that one exists.
While Secretary Clinton's early approval ratings were among the highest of any in the administration, there began to be whispers that she had been tossed aside by Obama and that she was essentially the victim of a clever plot by the President to render her powerless. This theme seemed to be helped along when, in May of this year, the former Bill Clinton adviser turned professional Clinton-basher, Dick Morris, penned this commentary, entitled "The Incredible Shrinking Clintons," excerpted below:
Meanwhile, both Clintons are effectively muzzled and cannot criticize Obama even as he reverses President Clinton’s free market proclivities and budget balancing discipline. Hillary, the supposed friend of Israel, must sit by quietly and watch Iran get the bomb while trying all the while to stop Israel from preventing it.
Bill can’t even make money. Denied the ability to accept speeches from foreign governments or their organs and fenced out of continuing his profitable relationship with the Emir of Dubai, he and his wife must accept the loss of the $13 million they spent on her campaign and sit by passively, unable to earn the money to replace it.
How long will Hillary subject herself to this discipline? Likely as long as Obama is popular. Should his ratings fade, she might move away from the president and could even consider a primary contest against him in 2012. But while he is on top of his game, she’ll stay loyal.
But she is shrinking by the day…
It didn't seem to matter to some that Dick Morris always has his own agenda when he puts the names Bill or Hillary to paper, nor did it seem to matter that his entire commentary was based on self-serving speculation. How in the world does Dick Morris know that the Clintons "cannot criticize Obama even as he reverses President Clinton’s free market proclivities and budget balancing discipline?" Does he really expect us to believe he has an inside source in the Clinton camp that would give him this sort of first-hand knowledge of the relationship between the Clintons and President Obama? Please.
Interestingly, after Morris' commentary appeared, a whole new crop of "Hillary is invisible and has no power" articles began to appear in the mainstream media and blogosphere. Call me paranoid, but I can't help but think it's not a coincidence that many of these articles seemed to borrow themes from from Dick Morris' general template.