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Sargent: Steinberg Will Be Clinton’s Deputy at State, Holbrooke on the Outs

Speaking of Hillary Clinton’s people, Greg Sargent has it confirmed from a knowledgeable source: Jim Steinberg, deputy national security adviser in Bill Clinton’s second term, is close to becoming Hillary Rodham Clinton’s deputy secretary of state.

While being mindful of President-elect Obama’s admonition yesterday against the Obama-versus-Clinton meme, Steinberg almost assuredly isn’t whom Clinton would have picked on her own. Like Greg Craig, Steinberg has roots in the Clinton administration but gravitated toward Obama during the primaries. Steinberg, who was on the progressive side of the Clinton administration, can hardly be considered a loyalist. If anything, he’d be a good bridge-builder between the two of them, and a likely candidate to smooth over any feathers that get ruffled. The pick probably portends a healthy working relationship, as the Washington Post indicated today.

But perhaps the more interesting aspect of Greg’s reporting is that the Obama people don’t want to see progressive bete noire Richard Holbrooke in the deputy job:

“They don’t want him,” the source said of the Obama team. “The collateral damage that he brings is too great for them to want to deal with. There will be a role for Holbrooke, but not as deputy.”

May I suggest a role for Holbrooke? This speaks very, very well of Obama. Holbrooke is an extremely talented diplomat — possibly the best of his generation when it comes to crisis management — who is better suited to forcing implementation of Obama’s policies than helping shape it. (How’s that for diplomatic?)

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