Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kerry to the Pentagon, Rice to Foggy Bottom?

By Michael J.W. Stickings


President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.

Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

I have enormous respect for Senator Kerry and would love to see him get a senior post in the Obama Administration. He'd be a fine SecDef. (And Rice would a fine successor to Hillary.)

But I have two big concerns:

First, Democrats would lose a key voice in the Senate, particularly on foreign and military policy. Then again, he's almost 69 years old. How much longer does he want to serve as a senator? Maybe four years at the Pentagon -- with the Afghan War drawing to a close, the U.S. continuing to face nebulous threats around the world (and requiring new strategies for dealing witht them), and the military in need of major reform -- would allow him to leave a greater mark.

Second, Democrats could lose Kerry's seat in the Senate, reducing their majority. Because while Scott Brown, still a credible figure (or at least still a big name) even after his big loss to Elizabeth Warren last week, may run for the Republicans, it's not clear who the Democrats have even in solidly Democratic Massachusetts to compete for the seat in a snap election. Sure, they'd find someone, but what if that someone turned out to be as incompetent as Martha Coakley (who ran a terrible campaign and lost to Brown in 2010)? Other than Kerry, the biggest Democratic figure in the state is Gov. Deval Patrick, who proved to be something of a superstar this year supporting Obama's re-election (particularly his outstanding speech at the DNC), and he's already in his second term (having won re-election in 2010), but he's already signalled he'd rather stay where he is. But maybe. Because if not, Scott Brown might very well be a senator again.

So basically I'm fine with Kerry leaving the Senate for the Pentagon, but I'd be a lot happier about it if the Democrats found a strong candidate to replace him.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home