Barack Obama has on countless occasions spoke of the need to heal the nation and bring divisiveness to an end.   He has on countless occasions spoke of there not being red states and a blue states, but a United States and has stressed the need to come together and work together to forge a more perfect Union.   If he truly believes what he says he believes, he will assemble not a team of yes-men and -women, not a team of people who agree with him, but, as Doris Kearns Goodwin put it, a team of rivals.   Not a team of homogeneous political makeup, but a team of varying and diverse political philosophies.   That team looks likely to include Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and it should include Senator John McCain as secretary of defense.

As former rivals to Obama, Clinton and McCain would do a great service for their country by serving in his cabinet.   Obama spent many months critiquing Clinton’s policy proposals and calling McCain an extension of President Bush.   Would his appointment of these two senators invalidate his campaign and mean he said these things simply to be elected?   No.   Having advisors who don’t necessarily share your opinion is necessary for healthy debate and should be encouraging for the rest of us that our leaders can set aside partisan and political differences.

Obama has spoken in the past about his interest in modeling President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, one consisting of a group of advisors who, previous to Lincoln’s election and subsequent nominations of them to their respective jobs, loathed him.   He chose them not because he wanted them to like and admire him, which they eventually did, but because Lincoln thought they were the best people he could enlist.

With Clinton and McCain, the question isn’t why Obama would put rivals, two people he spent months demonizing, in his cabinet.   It is a question of whether these former foes can place personal strife aside and serve the country.   It is a question of whether they are willing to set asides their specific differences with Obama should he ask them to enact policy contrary to theirs.   And can anyone argue neither Clinton nor McCain are qualified for their respective positions?   After all, the two came extremely close to being elected president.

But would Clinton or McCain shirk responsibilities of serving the president and create foreign policies or defense policies, respectively, on their own and perhaps divergent of Obama’s?   If they truly serve at the pleasure of the president, then no.   They would be asked to leave or would be passive-agressively forced out, no doubt severely damaging what’s left of their political careers if not their legacies.

Does it matter that the three may not like each other?   And again, does it matter the three have heavily disagreed on policies throughout the presidential campaign?   Absolutely not.   Because coming together, working together is putting country first.   And with two wars, an economic catastrophe, and environmental, health care, and education crises, that is what matters.