Making the Senate more enticing to Clinton

MAKING THE SENATE MORE ENTICING TO CLINTON…. If you believe the reports, Hillary Clinton’s departure from the Senate to become the Secretary of State is a done deal. I suspect it probably is, but one of the more common questions about the move is why Clinton would want to give up a great, long-term gig in the Senate for a tough, short-term gig in Foggy Bottom.

Part of the problem for Clinton is that her seniority isn’t doing her any favors. There’s been all kinds of shuffling with the committee chairs since the election, driven in part by Robert Byrd’s decision to give up the Appropriations Committee, but Clinton is left without a gavel of her own. It’s no one’s fault, and she isn’t being deliberately slighted, but there hasn’t been enough movement on her specific committees to give Clinton a chance to move up. It must be frustrating for someone anxious for a promotion.

So, when the specter of the State Department came up, it no doubt looked pretty compelling. It’s interesting, then, that Senate Democratic leaders are reportedly willing to make the chamber a more attractive option for the junior senator from New York.

Democratic leaders in the Senate are prepared to give Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton a still-undefined leadership role there if she does not become Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Democratic officials close to the situation said Thursday.

The discussions about an enhanced position for Mrs. Clinton are factoring into her deliberations over joining the cabinet, the officials said. Mrs. Clinton, the junior senator from New York, is wrestling with whether to abandon her independence to become the nation’s top diplomat or remain in a chamber where lack of seniority limits her influence. […]

Senate Democrats gathered Tuesday to re-elect their leadership, including Mr. Dorgan, without offering any of the top slots to Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Reid told those at the closed-door meeting that he was looking for a way to create a new leadership role for her, two people who were in the room said. The same day, Mr. Kennedy also chose her to head one of three health care working groups looking at legislation.

Mr. Reid wants to come up with some sort of leadership position to recognize Mrs. Clinton’s standing as one of the party’s most popular figures, and aides said he was confident that he could arrive at something with sufficient muscle to appeal to her.

If the leadership could give Clinton a better role in the chamber, would she be more likely to stick around? I guess we’ll see soon enough.

As for her interest in joining the Obama cabinet, the New York Times quoted sources close to the senator saying she was prepared to decline the offer on Wednesday, was back on the fence by midday Thursday, and by last night, was inclined to accept the job.

“At the end of a confused day in which even Mr. Obama’s advisers seemed unsure what was happening, a transition official reached out to reporters Thursday night to say that the president-elect’s team believed things were on track with Mrs. Clinton and that her nomination could be announced after Thanksgiving,” the Times added.