Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's southeast Asia trip with President Obama, which ended Tuesday when she jetted off to the Middle East, is scheduled to be her final overseas tour with the president before she steps aside after four years as his top diplomat. Clinton began the job fresh off her bitter rivalry with Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, but over the course of Obama's first term the two became effective allies. Clinton's aides say she's weary after traveling back and forth across the globe, and looking forward to some time to rest. They expect her to be back after her batteries are recharged, though — Clinton says she wants to get more exercise, travel for pleasure, and see if she can get beyond simply feeling tired. The question is, what will be her next role on the public stage? Here, four possibilities:
1. Dems want Hillary for president
Hillary "has said repeatedly that she will not run again," says Suzanne Goldenberg at Britain's The Guardian, but she "remains the top choice of many Democrats" to be the party's presidential nominee in 2016. The early odds make Clinton a runaway favorite over Vice President Joe Biden and all other possible Democratic candidates. "Her approval ratings are inching towards 70 percent, her highest in 20 years in political life," and she has built up "a huge reservoir of goodwill" as she traveled the globe representing Obama and the U.S.
2. She should be Treasury secretary
"The chatter over who will be the next Treasury secretary has heated up now that the election is behind us," says Mark Dow at Business Insider. The last four years "were about financial repair," so we needed a financial whiz "to fix the plumbing of our financial system." The challenges of the next four years "will be predominantly fiscal, not financial." The person who gets the job should be able to push "sound fiscal policies straight through Capitol Hill." The ideal candidate will have the confidence of the president, the respect of Congress, strong international experience, and — this is key — should know "where the bodies are buried on Capitol Hill." Hillary Clinton doesn't want the job, but she's "far and away" the best candidate.
3. She will remain an advocate for women
"If she really does drop out of politics and move on," says Gail Collins at The New York Times, Hillary could devote herself to "championing the cause of women, continuing her mega-listening tours around the globe, having serious conversations about issues of great import and minimal glamour." During her tenure at the State Department, Clinton has "dug deep into the bureaucracy, trying to ensure that American diplomacy will be promoting women's empowerment many secretaries down the line." As the "most famous woman in the world," it's reasonable to expect that she'll never really abandon that work, no matter what role she chooses next.
4. First she'll write a book, then... who knows?
After Clinton steps down, probably in January, she'll almost certainly take about six months for herself, says The Guardian. Step one during that period will likely be "to write her memoirs about her time in office." Then she'll have some decisions to make. "Just look at her resume," says Chris Matthews at MSNBC: "Valedictorian at Wellesley, Yale Law School, practicing attorney, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, United States Senator from New York, U.S. Secretary of State." There are few people as qualified as Hillary Clinton to play a "historic role" in the future. The smart move, though, is for Hillary "not to make a move. Let us wait. Let Big Bill wait. See how this second Obama term starts off. Learn how the country is doing." She should kick back and take some well-deserved rest, then plot her next move once it's more clear what lies ahead.