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Rice And Clinton

Clay Risen speculates that elevating Susan Rice's UN Ambassador job to cabinet level is a kind of shot across Hillary's bow. Maybe. But a smart foreign-policy watcher I know makes a different point: That Obama has created a new foreign policy power center amid an existing surplus of strong figures (Biden, Hillary, Gates, Jones) in that mix. On the flip side, Rice may well have trouble competing with Madame Secretary if it comes to that: "In turf battles Hillary will eat Rice for lunch," says this person, noting that of the five foreign policy apppintees onstage today, Rice's resume is by far the thinnest. It will be interesting to see how she manuevers through internal policy debates and how much Obama helps her make up for her (relative) lack of experience.

It helps to have been on the inside for a long time. Remember, it was Dick Cheney's mastery of bureaucratic tricks, like control of "paper flow," that enabled him much of his unprecedented influence.

--Michael Crowley