Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers the keynote address to the New York Women's Foundation breakfast Thursday in New York. | Marion Curtis~Starpix via AP
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:13AM
All eyes will be on Barack Obama as he comes home to Chicago this weekend for the NATO Summit.
Then again, Hillary Clinton, a Park Ridge native, is coming home, too.
The president and his secretary of state are a stunning study in American politics. Not that there haven’t been, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin instructs, teams of rivals before.
But this particular team journeys to Chicago to stand on the world stage of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit less than six months before the 2012 presidential election.
Four years ago, Clinton was the presumed nominee of the Democratic presidential primaries, not Obama. She would have made history as this country’s first woman president. But it was Obama who made history instead as the first African American to win that highest office.
To the credit of each, they did the political/policy arithmetic. And understood that addition trumped subtraction.
Obama has been appreciative and respectful. Clinton has been skillful and loyal. Together, they have done well.
That’s why, in the view of some of Obama’s trusted counselors and donors, it’s Hillary Time.
In her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton, according to the State Department’s website, has made 165 foreign visits and logged three-quarters of a million air miles. By any standard, she has earned an upgrade.
Besides, Vice President Joe Biden, a foreign policy wonk for decades in the U.S. Senate, is on the record as saying someday he would love to be secretary of state. Now could be that time.
While Clinton and the Obama team have shot down the notion of a job swap, it hasn’t stopped some insiders from wishing and hoping.
That includes Newton Minow, the 86-year-old Obama mentor whose extensive government resume dates back to John F. Kennedy’s administration.
Minow, like Obama, is the father of accomplished daughters. And he has long believed that an Obama-Clinton ticket would not just be good politics but the right thing to do for women. And for the country as a whole.
“Number one, I think [Hillary Clinton’s] record as secretary of state is superlative,” Minow said by phone from his Chicago law office. “And number two, the vice presidency would lead to her becoming president.”
As for Obama? He knows women and independents will be key to his re-election.
This weekend, Obama and Clinton will take center stage in Chicago. On Sunday night, as the president gathers for dinner with heads of state at Soldier Field, just across the museum campus, Secretary of State Clinton will host her counterparts at the Adler Planetarium.
So close, yet still so far away.
We witnessed a political watershed in 2008. Why not another in 2016?
It was to the young women of Barnard College in New York that the president spoke this week in a commencement address. Obama pitched the graduates about their own futures, saying, “Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”
How about a seat at the head of the nation’s table?
It could happen.
With a little help from a friend.