Secretary Gates has made it clear that he is going to be leaving his cabinet position as Secretary of Defense in 2011. While it is not clear when he is leaving, my guess is that he will be gone by mid-year.
This leaves President Obama with an opportunity to name a replacement who can choose to implement a different strategy with regard to how the Pentagon does business.
President Obama cannot afford a partisan Senate fight, nor can the country afford to let the position go unfilled while the Senate dukes it out.
If the Democratic majority in the Senate is reduced by several seats, as has been predicted, it is fair to assume that the president will be looking for someone with a strong defense background and knowledge, an international reputation and someone who will sail thorough the confirmation process.
With that in mind, one person seems singularly positioned to assume the post of Secretary of Defense. Her name is Hillary Clinton.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was confirmed by 94 votes for her current position with only two senators voting no. She clearly is well regarded even by Republicans in Congress.
With two years at the State Department she will have honed her diplomatic skills and on top of that she has also served several years in the Senate as well as having seen creation of policy first hand for eight years in the White House.
That begs the question, who should fill Mrs. Clinton’s spot at the State Department? The answer is obvious. President Obama will be looking for someone who can project a positive image of the United States, someone who has relationships with leaders in every part of the globe and who is a consummate diplomat.
There is only one person who meets and exceeds all of those requirements: His name is William Jefferson Clinton. He has already met those requirements. He is well regarded. He understands the nuances of foreign policy, he can schmooze with the best of them and though his Clinton Global Initiative he has made enormous impact worldwide.
It would take real guts for President Obama to have both Clintons in the two highest cabinet positions, however Mr. Obama showed his mettle when he nominated Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State.
The world we face in 2011 will require nothing less than President Obama’s full commitment to nominate nothing but the best. I defy anyone to come up with two better choices.
Ellen Ratner is Washington Bureau Chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.