What a storybook ending! Once fierce foes in the primary of a lifetime in 2008, they sat side-by-side this past Sunday for Mrs. Clinton's exit interview as secretary of state. Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" said the interview was the president's idea. The president called Secretary Clinton "a strong friend" and Mrs. Clinton characterized their relationship as "warm, close."
Friday is Secretary Clinton's last day in office. Or is it? She is definitely stepping down from her current job and says that her goal right now is catching up on sleep, reading and her family. She is widely-respected and hugely popular - 65 percent of Americans give her a favorable rating - something she achieved by staying out of the day-to-day political fray and by speaking out on behalf of women around the world.
What a difference 20 years make. In January 1992, then-Gov. Bill Clinton with his wife, Hillary Clinton, by his side appeared on "60 Minutes" to salvage his candidacy for president of the United States. He had been accused of infidelity by Gennifer Flowers, an Arkansas state employee and part-time cabaret singer. In the interview with the same Steve Kroft, Bill Clinton denied the affair but acknowledged he had caused "pain in my marriage;" his wife stood by him and supported his statements.
Nowadays, it is Hillary who is completely in control. The president says that he wishes she "were sticking around" and invited her for lunch at the White House this week. She is being wooed by numerous TV outlets from the BBC to Fox News for exit interviews. And everyone is asking the same question: Will Hillary Run in 2016?
This puts Vice President Joe Biden in a bind. By many accounts - and to borrow a phrase from Obama's presidential campaigns - Biden is "fired up, ready to go!" He and his family have been telling people that he wants to run in 2016. With reason. Biden has been the president's man on the Hill, forging consensus, when it once seemed impossible, on the latest fiscal deal. After the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, the president put him in charge of new gun control initiatives and Biden is eager to lead that fight.
But, until Hillary Clinton decides what she wants to do - and she has given no clear indication - Biden's dreams are on hold.
In the end, the president may be forced to show his hand. Right now, he needs both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden on his side. Mrs. Clinton continues to be a force on women's issues and in international affairs. The vice president is the administration's go-to guy in getting legislation passed. Some argue that Biden will have even more persuasive powers if he is considered to be running for president.
So, for now, the president is best friends with both Clinton and Biden. But, there may come a time when he has to whisper in one ear or the other. Ed Rendell, former Democratic Party National Chairman, knows what he would do, stating, "...you can't stand in the way of history, and history is poised for the first woman president if Hillary Clinton chooses to go down that road."
But what will Obama do?
Eileen Shields-West has served as a correspondent of TIME Magazine and has reported for CBS, CNN and NPR. She has written a book on political campaigns called "The World Almanac of Political Campaigns" (1992), and edited and contributed to "Choosing the Right Educational Path for Your Child" (2008), a book on 21st century schools. She is currently chair of Refugees International, a leading non-profit organization that advocates for refugees and the internally displaced, traveling to such places as Darfur, South Sudan, Rwanda, the Congo, Thailand and Cambodia to advocate on refugee issues. She sits on the board of The SEED Foundation, which is responsible for setting up the first public charter boarding school in the nation. She volunteers as a Bookpal in D.C. public schools. She holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
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