*) Posted Dec 16, updated Dec 17

The buzz on the street is that Sen. John Kerry is going to be nominated as the US Secretary of State (that’s the foreign minister…) after Hillary Clinton steps down when Obama begins his second term (see here for example. but it’s all over the news)

(Sen. Kerry, Amd. Rice, Mme. Secretary –  photo credits: Charles Dharapak/AP)

While we think this over and before we present our thoughts on this, let me just quote Anne-Marie Slaughter from this excellent Wash Post opinion piece penned by the professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University (Feeling typecast, Madam Secretary? Dec 7, 2012)

Of course, there could be another reason we’ve had a string of female secretaries of state. Shifting cultural expectations and 21st-century politics mean it is important to have a woman in one of the “big three” Cabinet positions: state, defense or Treasury. Perhaps the State Department keeps going to a woman because of a reluctance to appoint a woman as secretary of defense or Treasury. If this is the reason for putting women in this role, it’s a bad one (…) At least a couple of very talented women are in line for both defense and Treasury; I hope they find their way to the top in the next four years. But all told, I’ve got a radical proposal. Let’s go gender-blind. If that results in three men in these positions, fine. If it results in three women in these positions, so be it. None is inherently a “man’s” or a “woman’s” role. They are all tough jobs, and we need the best people we can find.



It really does look like John Kerry by now. Reuters has this analysis which I found helpful:

Rice, defended by Obama and other senior members of the administration, said on Thursday she was withdrawing her name from consideration to avoid a potentially lengthy and disruptive confirmation process in the U.S. Senate. Kerry, known both nationally through his presidential run and in the U.S. Senate where he has long been a senior Democratic powerbroker, offers no such challenges. After losing narrowly to Republican George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, Kerry forged a new identity as a congressional leader on foreign policy, often serving as a low-profile emissary for the White House.


And AP also has good overview of the issues (reprinted by Washington Times), and NBC News has a bigger-picture piece here.

“Kerry’s confirmation would likely not come without some minor re-litigation of past controversies.  One of Congress’s richest members, he was painted as an out-of-touch patrician by his presidential foes. The onetime Navy lieutenant was criticized by opponents during his campaign for his high-profile protests of the Vietnam War, including his nationally-covered challenge to a congressional panel in 1971 to defend the deaths of men “for a mistake.”

Kerry worked closely with the president in the just-finished election, playing Romney in debate preparations and had been seen as a potential choice to head either the State Department or the Department of Defense. Earlier today a top Pentagon official told NBC News that former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel appeared to be the likely choice for secretary of Defense.”