Several weeks ago, the press was full of stories that pointed out Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's absence from important international confabs. Even the most "mainstream" of publications suggested that America's real foreign policy was being forged from the same epicenter as healthcare reform, energy policy and virtually every other major initiative -- the White House.
Of course Secretary Clinton had suffered a nasty injury to her elbow not long ago, which could explain some of her absence from the limelight. And in recent days she has made major statements regarding both Iran and North Korea, and has picked up the pace of her international traveling.
So was the media just trying to make trouble when they suggested Clinton had been shunted aside? Not necessarily. To fully appreciate the delicate dance that remains the "Obama-Clinton Waltz," one must go back to another era -- that of Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Kennedy.
Some may remember that Robert Kennedy, who served as attorney general in President John Kennedy's administration, never got along very well with then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson. But what may have been forgotten is where the bad blood originated. Johnson fought Bobby Kennedy's brother for the 1960 Democratic nomination, right up to the Democratic convention. Does that sound familiar if we substitute the names Obama and Clinton?
After President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Bobby came to be known in the press as "RFK." The initials suggested "JFK" and the days of Kennedy "Camelot."
Remember that Johnson resented Bobby Kennedy's often dismissive treatment of him while Johnson was vice president. So Johnson returned the favor once he became president. Not unlike many in the Obama camp, Johnson's advisers viewed the glow from the legacy of the late President Kennedy as following Bobby everywhere he went. At times this made the sitting president look like a tired Texas politician compared to the "rightful successor" to the Kennedy magic.
In much the same way, many advisers to Barack Obama have been averse to having Hillary Clinton, the wife of the Democrats' last political superstar, former President Bill Clinton, hovering in the cabinet room and showing up their man.