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But as with everything involving the Clintons, restoration is complicated. Negotiating Bill Clinton's portfolio has been one sticking point. The conundrum was on display on Nov. 16 even as Bill hailed his wife's potential to be "really great as a Secretary of State." He made that comment while giving a paid speech for the National Bank of Kuwait, which is the kind of thing for which he earned more than $10 million last year alone. Beyond his six-figure speaking fees, there are also a myriad of undisclosed contributions to the former President's far-flung charitable endeavors and to his presidential library, many of which have come from foreign interests that his wife would be dealing with as Secretary of State.
Team Clinton dismissed suggestions that there was anything in his donor files that could get in the way of her confirmation. As Bill told the Chronicle of Philanthropy in September, "The only reason I didn't want to [disclose] the library donors is that no previous President had. I suppose if Hillary were elected President, or maybe even if she had been nominated, we would have had to go back to the donors and at least disclose everyone that didn't object to it. But I wouldn't have any objection to it." (See pictures of Clinton and Obama battling in Pennsylvania.)
In negotiations with the Obama transition team, the Wall Street Journal first reported, the Clintons have offered to disclose the identities of all future donors to Bill's charitable activities, as well as givers of major past contributions. (What constitutes "major" is still under discussion, though a source involved in the conversation tells TIME that the figure is likely to be $1 million or more.) Trickier to manage is the role the former President would play going forward. Should his wife become the country's top diplomat, President No. 42 would probably be required to get clearance from both the White House counsel's office and the State Department's ethics boss before accepting future donations or giving paid speeches. (See pictures of Hillary Clinton meeting Michelle Obama.)
But just as worrisome as any financial arrangements would be Bill Clinton's ongoing relationships with world leaders and his predilection for offering advice as he did in 2006, when Dubai sought help in a controversial attempt to acquire six terminals in U.S. ports. (Hillary, a leader in the effort to block the deal that she called an "unacceptable risk" to national security, later said she was unaware that Bill had been coaching the other side.) Ex-Presidents always have that potential; Jimmy Carter has complicated life for every President since he left office. But should Hillary get the job, it might prove difficult to distinguish whether her husband was speaking on the Obama Administration's behalf.
What's in it for Hillary? Her allies point out that the move would not be without its negatives. Friends like New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter are counseling her not to take the job. They say she would be giving up important work in the Senate, particularly on the health-care-reform cause that is her passion. Others warn that her job description at Foggy Bottom would mean she'd lose her own voice. Against that, enthusiasts for the move point out, Clinton is smart, a fast and thorough study, and tough as nails. And with Obama focused on the economy, she could have a big role in repairing the U.S.'s image overseas. Says an Obama adviser who has not always been a Clinton fan: "She's a great team player."
And the harder truth is that Clinton's options as a Senator are limited, at least in the immediate future. In that chamber, she is just one of many presidential also-rans and a relatively junior member of an institution where power and advancement require seniority. Shortly after the election, she lobbied Health Committee chairman Edward Kennedy and majority leader Harry Reid to create a health-reform subcommittee for her to chair and was turned down. Her consolation prize to head one of three ad hoc task forces that Kennedy has created would not allow her to put much of a stamp of her own on any final legislation that emerges. And if there's anything a First Lady who became a Senator would understand, it's that opportunities don't always come to those who wait for them.
With reporting by James Carney, Michael Duffy and Michael Weisskopf / Washington