While everyone was on the way out the door for the holiday break, John F. Kerry was formally proposed for the job he’s long wanted. Per the Washington Post:
President Obama nominated Sen. John F. Kerry on Friday to be the next secretary of state, saying that “in a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role.”
Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his selection all but guarantees a swift, smooth path to confirmation. The lawmaker has been a frequent foreign policy adviser and confidant to Obama, and his five terms in Congress have gained him bipartisan advocates in the Senate…
In a brief ceremony in the White House Roosevelt Room, Obama praised Kerry, the son of a U.S. diplomat, for his military service in Vietnam and his work decades later restoring diplomatic relations with that country, and for his long service in the Senate….
Obama praised Kerry’s globe-trotting work ethic and noted his long list of personal relationships with leaders around the world. “He’s not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Obama said…
Per Mr. Pierce, who’s been following Kerry’s career for a long time:
Kerry is a good, safe choice for the job. He has made an entire Senate career out of taking on foreign-policy issues that nobody else — except Gary Hart — ever wanted to touch. He led the way in normalizing diplomatic relations with Vietnam at a time in which H. Ross Perot was still running around the country talking about thousands of American POW’s in camps in Laos, and while the country was filling the theaters watching Sly Stallone as John Rambo, doing as good a job of revising that sad episode in American history as can be expected from an actor who sat out the war as the chaperone at a girls’ school in Switzerland. He took on the rat’s nest at the Bank Of Commerce And Credit International, when BCCI was laundering money for whoever came through the door, and when BCCI also had bought enough politicians in Washington that Kerry and his investigators were pretty much out there alone…
This is a man who knows where the bodies have been buried for the past 30 years and, yes, he voted for the Iraq war, which was a terrible mistake that he fumbled trying to explain, but if you’re casting about for a Democratic Secretary Of State from his generation of Democratic politicians, Kerry is the natural choice, even if you find the way he came to be nominated, through the slandering of Susan Rice, distasteful, as I do….
(Susan Rice will be just fine. She’s a skilled professional, a personal friend of President Obama, and young enough to add still more gold stars to her CV before being appointed Secretary of State in 2016, or 2020, or 2024.)
… But though Mr. Kerry would bring even deeper experience to the job than Mrs. Clinton did, his appointment is likely to further centralize policy decisions in the White House, where for the past four years the president and a small circle of advisers have kept a tight grip on issues like Iran’s nuclear program, China, Pakistan, and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan.
“There’s every reason to believe that we’re going to have a very White House-centric foreign policy,” said David J. Rothkopf, the chief executive of the Foreign Policy Group. “Kerry is going to have to show his loyalty and willingness to work within the Obama system.” …
“The easiest model to see developing is one in which Kerry is on the road a lot, interfacing with foreign leaders, but the decision-making is done at the White House,” said Elliott Abrams, who held foreign-policy posts in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush….
indicted Iran-Gate conspirator “conservative policy analyst”, never permitted his presidents to interfere with the work of making the world safe for the megacorporate robber barons.)
The Boston Globe has more about Kerry’s history, as well as a tout sheet on the preliminary skirmishes for his Senate seat:
… State law requires Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary successor, once Kerry is confirmed by the Senate, as is expected to happen several weeks from now. An election would then be held between 145 days and 160 days after that.
Senator Scott Brown, the Republican who lost an election last month to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, is the most prominent person believed to be interested in running. He has hinted strongly that he would like to return to the Senate… If Brown decides against a run, former governor William F. Weld could emerge. He has said he is unlikely to run, but has not ruled it out.
The Democratic field is more wide open. Several members of the House delegation have expressed strong interest, including Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston, Michael E. Capuano of Somerville, and Edward J. Markey of Malden…
There’s been any amount of hand-wringing over the possibility that ‘Cosmo Boy’ Brown will grip’n’grin his way back into the Senate, to which I can only say: Fool me once… As a Democrat, I am all in favor of Bill Weld deciding to run against Scotty, because Big Bill is a charming patrician whose sense of inborn entitlement would drive Brown to make an even bigger prick of himself, but I doubt any remaining grievance on Weld’s part against the far right wing of the GOP is intense enough to bring him out of retirement for less than a sure bet.
As for the Dems, Ed Markey’s my Representative, and while he’s never set the Charles on fire he’s been a steady vote for the reality-based community (high tech & education, particularly, those being the big-dollar local industries). Capuano’s managed to balance a district divided between the devoutly progressive (professors & students) and the working class ‘traditional’ Dems, so he’s got that experience. Lynch I know less about; he’s hardcore Party Machine, probably a Blue Dog if he got the job, and reputed to be something of a thug — which would, of course, make it hard for Brown to get to the right of him, assuming it came down to those two.
As for the lucky appointee who gets to vote with the Dems between, presumably, late January and June:
…Potential interim senators include Vicki Kennedy, former governor Michael S. Dukakis, and retiring US Represenative Barney Frank. One person whose name was floated as a potential interim replacement, Margaret H. Marshall, the former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, was not immediately available today. But her husband, former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, laughed uproariously when called by a reporter….
Margaret H. Marshall was the Chief Justice responsible for making Massachusetts the first state to recognize same-sex marriage, so her place in history is secure. She resigned when her her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but I assume the thinking is that five months in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body would be more of an honor than a nuisance. I don’t think Michael Dukakis will be offered the job, much as I’d like to see him there, and from the brief snippets on the local news it doesn’t seem like he expects it to be offered. Vicki Kennedy — or, why not, Ben Affleck; hell, or Matt Damon — would be a safe vote for President Obama.
Of course, I’d love to have Barney Frank steam-cleaning the Repubs for a few strenuous and highly entertaining months, assuming he’s willing to put off his retirement!