Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kerry gets State

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With Susan Rice having pulled out of contention, thereby avoiding a contentious confirmation process, it looks like John Kerry will get the Obama administration gig he's always wanted, secretary of state.

Basically, instead of getting Rice at State and Kerry at Defense, we're going to get Kerry at State and Chuck Hagel at Defense.

Which combination is preferable? I preferred Kerry over Rice at State all along, because I have such enormous respect for him and think he's much more progressive and independent-minded than Rice (even if I backed Rice fully when Republicans went after her over Benghazi), but I'm generally mixed about Hagel at the Pentagon. He's fine, as far as Republicans go, but why appoint a Republican at all? You wouldn't find a Republican president appointing a Democrat to such a senior position, and surely there's a Democrat Obama could appoint instead.

I get that these positions usually go to establishment insiders who won't threaten the whole military-industrial status quo, or whatever we want to call it these days, and I suppose Hagel is enough of a cautious realist not to get pulled in dangerously militaristic ways, but still. This is Obama's chance to remake key government departments along more liberal-progressive lines. Unsurprisingly, given that he's awfully establishmentarian himself, it looks like he doesn't care to do anything of the kind.

So what's preferable? How about Kerry at State and a (liberal) Democrat at Defense? There's still hope.

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2 Comments:

  • There's another problem with Hagel at DoD: it pushes this canard that Republicans are good at defense. Most of the time I just throw up my hands regarding the tactical abilities of this administration. Increasingly, I fear that Obama is more concerned about his legacy than his party's future.

    By Anonymous Frankly Curious, at 3:12 PM  

  • Very good point.

    It was bad enough that Obama went first with Bush's guy, Gates, and then a Clinton insider in Panetta (hardly a progressive).

    And go back to Clinton... Perry was a businessman. And Aspin before him was hardly a liberal, often supporting Reagan and Bush I as a congressman.

    So who was the last SecDef who was in any way even remotely liberal? Maybe Brown under Carter?

    Meanwhile, look who Republican president have appointed: Rumsfeld twice, Cheney, Weinberger...

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 6:40 PM  

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