State secret: Is it Secretary's Day for Hillary?

Will Barack Obama really hire Hillary Clinton to take dictation? Is he that into tragedy?

The view at Foggy Bottom is still murky. But it always has been. The low-lying D.C. neighborhood first earned that moniker because of fog and industrial smoke. Then the high-lying State Department HQ moved in, and the nickname gained even more credibility.

So just imagine Hillary Clinton ensconced in Foggy Bottom. She'll never be in Obama's inner circle, and she'll always be a pretender to his throne, so why should he name her and give her control of a huge part of the national machinery? She and her staff would be nothing if not passive-aggressive in their dealings with Obama's crew. Why would he want more smoke blown at him from Foggy Bottom?

Internal dissent is one thing. As a lifelong practitioner, I'm all for it. But it's something else altogether to hire a supremely self-aggrandizing pol who constantly works to undercut your authority and is your chief rival in the party and who would try to impose her own agenda — just for the sake of its not being yours, that it would be hers. You've worked with people like that, haven't you? That wouldn't seem to be the kind of drama that Obama desires.

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He doesn't strike me as a King Lear. So why would he want to hire the wife of our former King Leer?

Maybe it's all a charade by him and his crew to allow her to save face — she'll finally say thanks for the gracious "offer" but her country needs her more in the Senate or some such B.S. like that.

Or maybe it's Hillary's crew that keeps spreading the word that she's in line for the job, and Obama's crew has shrewdly decided to just let them keep doing it if that's what it takes for Hillary to save face and for the party to keep from fracturing.

Don't forget: The country is officially in a recession, and an increasingly poorer and more fed-up populace already spells trouble for the Democrats for the mid-term elections in 2010. Even Jesus couldn't pull us out of this economic disaster by then, so you know that Congressional Democrats are already nervous about their new "mandate" for "change."

In any case, the newest immigrant to D.C. is both more intriguing than Clinton and less full of intrigue — at least from Obama's perspective. She's Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who's lined up to be the Homeland Security chief.

Janet be nimble. Check out the quick take on her in Phoenix New Times, which gave her a "Best Politician" award in 2006:

Janet Napolitano's the hands-down champion when it comes to political maneuvering around here. The mere fact that a woman who comes across as this butch can get elected governor and, before that, attorney general in Arizona (of all places) is testament to her political IQ. Plus, she's a bleedin' Democrat!

Somehow she's been able to avoid all the hot-button issues, or make us think she cares hugely about them without really doing much, and now the pollsters have declared her unbeatable . . .

Seems like a shrewd move by the Obama team: A female governor from a border state where immigration is a hot issue is now in charge of protecting the nation from terror.

And it could be a lot worse. Maybe a Republican would have chosen her exact opposite, the cartoonish Phoenix-based sheriff Joe Arpaio, for the job. For those who don't know, Arpaio is the notoriously hardline, publicity-grabbing Maricopa County lawman who runs what he proudly proclaims as the toughest jail system in the country. Being cruel to Mexicans and other people of color comes naturally to him.

In real life, Arpaio is a cross between Deputy Dawg and Barney Fife, without either of those characters' loveability. Arpaio was nothing but an ex-DEA-flunky crank when he used to pester reporters in Phoenix in the '80s — before Arizonans mystifyingly gave him a gun.

Remember Bernie Kerik, who had his five minutes in the D.C. sun as George W. Bush's putative Homeland Security czar? Joe Arpaio makes Bernie Kerik seem like Dwight D. Eisenhower.

As far as we know, controversy is not Janet Napolitano's middle name.

Judging by the way she skirts around things, she won't make waves. She's even more colorless than Tom Ridge, and she'll carry out whatever task Rahm Emanuel gives her.

Here's your task: Click on these . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: 'TRAGIC FIRE AT PET SHOP'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Dog takes car for run and crashes into L.I. shop'

N.Y. Times: 'After Losses, Pensions Ask For a Change'
"Some of the nation’s biggest companies want Congress to roll back rules requiring them to put more money into pension funds."

N.Y. Daily News: 'Team Obama thinks Hillary Clinton's people to blame for State speculation'

Register (U.K.): 'Google tells the world how to talk: Received Pronunciation not received, Scots scotched'

N.Y. Times: 'Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing'

L.A. Times: 'Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet'

Register (U.K.): 'German bawdy house offers free entry for life: Willing punters queue for promotional brothel tattoo'

Washington Post: 'Stocks Slump As Signs Point To Harder Times: Key Indicators Suggest Deep Recession'

MarketWatch: 'Saudi Prince boosting Citi stake to 5 Percent'

Bloomberg: 'Alwaleed Buys Citigroup Stock as Loss Exceeds Buffett'

Washington Post: 'Auto Execs Fly Corporate Jets to D.C., Tin Cups in Hand' (Dana Milbank)

N.Y. Daily News: 'Fine to quadruple amputee — in days'
"She went to an ER suffering from what she thought was just a kidney stone, but a medical nightmare left her a quadruple amputee. Tabitha Mullings claims doctors failed to diagnose an infection that has literally eaten her alive."

N.Y. Times: 'New York Police Fight With U.S. on Surveillance'

N.Y. Times: 'Web Sites Wage Holiday Price Wars'

Washington Post: 'Let the Guy Smoke: Obama Is Probably Fibbing About Giving Up Cigarettes. That's Okay.' (Michael Kinsley)

Register (U.K.): 'Homework late? Blame Russian hackers: Teachers wise up to tech-based yarns'

N.Y. Times: 'Discussions With Clintons as Obama Creates Team'

L.A. Times: 'L.A. councilman seeks to protect celebrities from paparazzi'

L.A. Times: 'Prop. 8 gay marriage ban goes to Calif. Supreme Court'

L.A. Times: 'World grapples with pirate problem'

Register (U.K.): 'Filesharing ambulance chasers get into the gay smut racket'


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