The Note: Dream of Rivals

So much for no drama.

Surely a certain soon-to-be-ex-senator knows this by now, but here's the thing about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: She tends to steal the scenes she's playing in.

Until the subject of her "private business" Thursday in Chicago is resolved -- and maybe until and even beyond the press conference announcing the new secretary who's headed to Foggy Bottom -- it will be 3 am in the transition process.

The Hillary rumors are the first potential stumbling block for the smooth machine that is President-elect Barack Obama's transition efforts -- and it revolves around a storyline that seems never to get old.

There's a decent chance this is just flattery, and an almost-equal chance that Clinton doesn't even want the job. But what does it say that no one is seriously waving off the possibility that Obama actually does want Hillary Clinton answering that ringing phone?

"Discussions about Clinton, D-N.Y., being asked to accept the post are 'very serious,' an Obama source says," per ABC's Martha Raddatz, Jake Tapper, and Z. Byron Wolf. "Asked if Hillary Clinton would consider the secretary of state job, a former official in President Clinton's administration said, 'I think so. What would you rather do -- be senator or secretary of state?' "

"She's smart, she's strong, she's experienced, she's a team player, she is usually pretty diplomatic, and she also brings some gender diversity to an Obama Team concerned about such matters," ABC's Tapper and Sunlen Miller report. "She brings instant stature to the job, one Democrat told me. Many world leaders have known her for almost two decades."

"But Obama and Clinton clashed frequently on international issues during their contentious primary battle," Tapper reported on "Good Morning America" Friday. "Clinton suggested Obama was naive on wanting to talk to Iran and reckless in discussing a willingness to strike terrorists in Pakistan without government permission."

"There's increasing chatter in political circles that the Obama camp is not overly happy with the usual suspects for secretary of state these days," Al Kamen writes in his Washington Post column. "And Obama could put her in his speed-dial for a 3 a.m. phone call each morning."

(Easiest joke in town: Would Bill Clinton want to fill out those Obama job application forms? Does Hillary Clinton want to go into detail about revelations that could potentially embarrass her would-be boss?)

Obama, of course, has plenty of experience with the Clintons. But in this delicate period where he remains around the presidency but not quite of it, this is one piece of the process where a little less transparency and openness could go a long way.

The AP's Liz Sidoti sources her report to "two Democratic officials in close contact with the Obama transition team": "Clinton, the former first lady who pushed Obama hard for the Democratic presidential nomination, was rumored to be a contender for the job last week, but the talk died down as party activists questioned whether she was best-suited to be the nation's top diplomat in an Obama administration. The talk resumed in Washington and elsewhere Thursday, a day after Obama named several former aides to President Bill Clinton to help run his transition effort."

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