Mike Allen and Ben Smith of Politico have an interesting debate on the matter of HRC

Mike: So a lot of usually skeptical Dems are convinced the Madam Secretary thing is going to happen, though one school of thought says that if it were real, it WOULDN’T have leaked. What do you make of them taking her motorcade to the transition office?

Ben: I’m pretty confident that they’ve really considered it, though I don’t know if that’s what Obama and Hillary discussed yesterday. But the leak itself, combined with a laundry list of other factors (Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton), make it hard for me to see no-drama Obama actually picking her. How do you get around that one? Or do other factors outweigh it?

Mike: I’m less suspicious because of how the word leaked — it seemed more organic than orchestrated. I started asking about her yesterday because I heard the SecState list was down to three, and a buddy had guessed that she was one of them. Several good sources said it was impossible, for all the obvious reasons. (Yes, Bill, that means you.) But in the afternoon, I got an e-mail back from one of them with the subject line “HRC” and the message: “As you may be hearing, I was wrong. She’s totally on the list and may be at the top.” I called him back and said, “You DO know how to get my attention.”

Ben: Well, it’s hard to argue with actual sources. I, too, talked to someone who said Obama himself has seriously discussed the prospect. And you can’t discuss these things for too long — it’s even possible that the decision has been made. But the downside isn’t just Bill: It’s having someone who thinks she, not Obama, would be a better president in a crucial policy-making role, making her own policy and, perhaps, undermining him. And what’s the upside? She has little leverage. He’s already a superstar diplomat.

Mike: Here’s The Argument (Mat Bai homage): President Obama may be tied down on the domestic economy and may have to essentially outsource part of the important job of re-engaging with American allies. She brings star power and credibility on the world stage. And if the economy gets worse, which it could well, how often is he going to want to be photographed with a million screaming Parisians? And here’s a big one: If the president-elect decides to keep Secretary Gates (now THAT, I’m skeptical of), her nomination could be a counterweight to that decision. Finally, would you rather have the Clintons inside the tent, or outside the tent?

Ben: It’s a good Argument. But Obama spent the campaign not letting the media bait him into stunts and demonstrating just how much he likes control. This would be ceding a tremendous part of his administration to a rival he can’t control and to her husband whom nobody can control.

Mike: Yes. The reason I always laughed down the idea that she would be on the ticket is that a) he is more convinced than ever that he doesn’t NEED the Clintons and b) Who wants the former president as a back-seat driver? Also, lots of folks are raising questions about the mess involved in disclosure of all his foreign business dealings. The pushback is that the president-elect is confident enough now to have a Team-of-Rivals cabinet — confident like only a president-to-be can be. Unlike when he’s choosing a running mate, it would be done from strength and he’s totally in the driver’s seat. You get the last word because I’m taking my 5- and 6-year-old nephews to the “trading card store.” We’re in the market for an Eli Manning and a Plaxico Burress.

Ben: And I’m sitting at the counter at a diner on Montague Street with an indulgent 5-year-old. That kind of Friday. Which makes me think this is, at least to some degree, the product of a serious news vacuum.