Hillary Clinton is probably ready to ankle out of the Senate,” N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes in her 11.16 column, titled “Team of Frenemies.” “The point of the Senate was to be a staging area for her presidential race, and that’s done.

“She’s not a player there. Her bid to get the health care issue away from Ted Kennedy was stymied recently when Kennedy refused her request to create a special subcommittee that she would head.

“And why should the woman who made 18 million cracks go back to being junior to Chuck Schumer, if she could be toasted from Dublin to Dubai?

“On the down side, Hillary would be taking over a big and demoralized government bureaucracy, after proving with her campaign that she does not know how to run a big and demoralized group of people.

“On the up side, she would never have to exaggerate her foreign policy résumé again; this time, she really would be brokering peace and flying into places where they’d try to fire at her.

“And if she worked hard enough — and she would — she could restore clarity to Foggy Bottom, the striped-pants center of diplomacy so maligned and misused by W. and Dick Cheney on their Sherman’s march to war in Iraq and in their overwrought bid to become the only hyperpower.

“If Barry chooses Hillary as secretary of state, a woman who clearly intimidated him and taught him to be a better pol in the primaries, it doesn’t signal the return of the Clinton era. It says the opposite: If you have a president who’s willing to open up his universe to other smart, strong people, if you have a big dog who shares his food dish, the Bill Clinton era is truly over.

“Appointing a Clinton in the cabinet would be so un-Clintonian.”