[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/brown.tina.art.jpg caption="Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of TheDailyBeast.com calls Hillary Clinton 'Obama's other wife.'"]
When President Obama picked Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, many called it a bold move that had star power written all over it. There are some who are now questioning if that star power is being kept under wraps.
Tina Brown is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of TheDailyBeast.com. She writes, “It's time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.” Brown joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.
Kiran Chetry: "Take off her burqa"? What do you mean by that?
Tina Brown: I mean I'd like to see a little more of Hillary being allowed to be her own person in the State Department. Clearly she's obviously having to represent the administration and she's doing it. She's showing, though, immense discipline, I have to say, about knocking herself back from the spotlight.
She didn't even appear on a talk show until June because the president's message team control very, very carefully who gets the limelight. And it's all really about Obama getting the limelight. So Hillary didn’t. Tomorrow she has her first big foreign policy address, which is actually welcome. Because I think it's time we saw more of her.
Chetry: You call it the ultimate checkmate in terms of the president putting her in that position and the effect it had on former President Bill Clinton. Explain that.
Brown: It turns out the disappointment, which people didn't quite get when it first happened, was a brilliant checkmate of the Clintons. Because in this position it's really important that the secretary of state does not let any daylight between herself and the president as we saw when Colin Powell really wasn't seen to be part of the Bush team. It really hurt him as secretary of state.
Chetry: The inner circle?
Brown: The inner circle, yes. So in Hillary's case, she can not let that happen. If she differs from Obama, she really hurts herself. At the same time, Bill Clinton, of course, wants to support his wife. And he's really aware that in the campaign at times he made gaffes. So he's become such a good boy, Bill Clinton. He’s just kept himself in a box. He's not really able to do as much now for the Clinton Initiative because of anything that might conflict. And he's just been made a special envoy to Haiti, which is hardly one of the world's most thrumming, top spots. So he’s really, in a sense, also being very skillfully kind of curtailed.
Chetry: So the question is, do you think this is part of a conspiracy – almost thinking as a chess match on the part of Obama? Meaning that he was possibly so threatened by the Clintons he wanted to find a way to get them in a box?
Brown: I think it played into his calculations. I think that Obama obviously wants smart people around him. What he sees with Hillary is she's an incredibly smart executive. She was a great choice for secretary of state. So on one hand he gets her terrific sort of brain power and her star power when he needs it. And on the other hand, he just makes sure the Clintons can’t at any point be troublesome for him. It's a kind of double win for Obama.
Chetry: Yesterday she made some interesting comments that maybe show a little bit of frustration.
“The process – the clearance and vetting process – is a nightmare. And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words.”
Chetry: She was explaining why there are some posts that have not been filled yet. She said the vetting process of the Obama administration is ridiculous at times.
Brown: I think it's really frustrating for her. But actually, in fairness to them, I think it's frustrating for all of them. I mean there are key positions still in the Treasury, which are not filled. Because it’s really hard to find someone, you know, whose nanny wasn't illegal or whose issue with their taxes is not going to thwart things. But she has the double frustration of that her appointees are viewed with that much more rigor because there’s a sense, again, they do not want the Clinton team to kind of reassemble as the Clinton team.
For instance, she really wanted as deputy secretary of state Richard Holbrooke. But she was overruled by the Obama administration and he insisted that she had James Steinberg who was their guy. And she’s also lost the ability to appoint ambassadorships, which is usually a secretary of state prerequisite. She wanted, for instance, someone else in the Japanese post and she was made to accept, again, an Obama fundraiser. So I think between all these curtailments she is feeling a little bit as if she's been boxed out.
Chetry: Do you think she’s happy she took the job?
Brown: I think she’s – it's hard to say. I would say another six months will answer that question. I think she's finding the job immensely interesting. Hillary’s all about the substance. And I think she loves to chew on all that foreign policy. She adores it. But I think she's also a big leader herself and she has really taken a position where I call her Obama's other wife. She's playing back up to him. I think at a certain time she might find that frustrating.