UPDATE: Hillsec

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You can count me among those who were skeptical about the stories last night and this morning that suggested Hillary Clinton is in serious consideration to become Secretary of State. It is not that I doubt her qualifications. I have traveled with her overseas, and have seen the depth of her knowledge of foreign policy, and her passion for it. But it seemed to me that this would be a complicated pick, for one reason: Bill Clinton. Would the former First Couple really want to undergo a vigorous vetting process that would expose all of his dealings overseas* to public scrutiny? And would Obama want the former President hovering so close to his own foreign policy shop?

Now comes this report from CNN:

(CNN) — Democratic sources tell CNN that President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton had a “serious discussion” Thursday to gauge Clinton’s interest in the post of secretary of state, if she were offered it.

Clinton’s response is unknown, although multiple sources agree that she was left with the impression that if she were interested in the post, it would be hers.

“There was a serious discussion to determine whether, if offered secretary of state, she would accept it,” said a source close to the Obama transition team.

In these circumstances, that source added, a president-elect does not meet with potential Cabinet secretaries unless he is serious about making an offer.

Another source close to the Obama transition team said that asking Clinton to be secretary of state “has been of great interest to Obama for a while. You’ve got to assume that Hillary Clinton did not come to visit the city of Chicago.”

So now my question is, if Clinton isn’t in serious contention for this post, why is Team Obama letting this idea hang out there? The last thing they would want to do is to rekindle the anger that her supporters felt when they believed that he didn’t give Clinton her due by vetting her to be his running mate.

Clinton, meanwhile, has been somewhat unsure of her role in the Senate going forward. Last week, shortly after the election, she asked Senator Edward M. Kennedy to set up a new health subcommittee on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and to let her chair it. She was turned down–not only because she lacks the seniority, but also because health care is an issue that Kennedy wants to take the lead on himself.

So it makes sense that Hillary Clinton would find the offer appealing. What a remarkable development it would be.

*Of course, Bill Clinton’s business dealings domestically, as well as the funding of his library, would also be open to scrutiny in any vetting process. But it seems to me that his extensive dealings overseas would be more at issue if his wife were nominated to be Secretary of State. These have already been the source of some controversy.