Obama has to offer something to Clinton. She's his main threat now and rightly regards part of his victory her doing. The primaries helped him. Left to fester in the Senate, Clinton will plot against the president if he doesn't actively seek her support and engagement and "spread the political wealth" of his mandate.
It is a senior enough position not to be fobbed off; it really does take advantage of the Clinton name abroad; it could even put Bill to good use and keep him out of mischief; and Obama has kept telling us that his cabinet model is "Team Of Rivals." Giving Hillary that kind of position is straight out of Lincoln.
Unlike the vice-presidency, a secretary of state has real constitutionally-designated things to do. From Clinton's point of view, it would be a natural position from which to run to succeed Obama in 2016 (or to make an inside push to oust him in 2012). The emergence of Max Baucus as the front senator for healthcare seems to me a sign that Obama might have already been signaling this maneuver. If Clinton isn't the lead player on healthcare, what is she going to do?
So here's hoping he offers and she accepts. It's an elegant and shrewd move; both public spirited and yet coldly calculating at the same time. Pure Obama.
(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty.)