Pat Buchanan

Having savaged each other for a year, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have now formed a rare partnership in power. Not since James Garfield chose James G. Blaine has a new president chosen his principal rival to be secretary of state.

What does this tell us?

First, don't take campaign oratory all that seriously.

Second, unlike Dennis Kucinich, Ted Kennedy, Ron Paul or Jesse Helms, Hillary and Barack are pragmatists. They do not let ideology or past insults get in the way of a mutually beneficial deal.

But this is not some Hitler-Stalin pact of American politics.

Dick Morris has it right. As in a parliamentary system, where Cabinet members come straight off the majority party front bench, Barack, as prime minister, is knitting together a coalition government that allocates its highest honors to its greatest stars.

As Tony Blair named rival Gordon Brown as chancellor of the exchequer, Barack made Joe Biden his vice president, Hillary his secretary of state and Bill Richardson his secretary of commerce. Had John Edwards not fouled his nest, he, too, would be in the Cabinet. Perhaps attorney general.

And while Barack has taken a risk naming Hillary, with her national following and ruthless courtiers, Hillary's investment is even greater. Should a clash erupt, as it did between Ronald Reagan and Al Haig, Barack, though at great cost, can terminate her and her career. The idea that a cashiered secretary of state could challenge President Obama in 2012, capture the nomination and win, after humiliating and dumping our first African-American president, is absurd.

And the Clintons know it. Absent divine intervention, Obama is the nominee in 2012. Hillary has to know this is likely her last chance to make history. Thus she seized the offer of State, and Bill agreed to go the Full Monty on his financial relationships.

What does this marriage of convenience, with Biden, Bob Gates and Gen. Jim Jones as ushers, mean for U.S. foreign policy?

Methinks the antiwar left has the crying towel out too early.

Our new decider's heart is still on the left. Moreover, his political interests argue for relegating to the trash bin of history a Bush-neocon policy of endless war until the Middle East resembles the Middle West. America cannot sustain the wars that Bush's policy produced, nor those it promises.

Look, then, for Obama to make a large, early down payment on his pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq within 16 months. Though the Status of Forces Agreement accepted by Iraq doubles the time Obama has to pull out, to December 2011, the nation, not just the left, wants out, with but a single caveat: America does not want a Saigon ending.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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