Is Kerry Angling for Secretary of State?

Is Senator John Kerry angling for the coveted role of Secretary of State? Apparently the Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi thinks he might be. She fired up her crystal ball today and said in her column: “AS EGYPT battles over its future, Senator John Kerry is negotiating his own.”

The Bay State’s senior senator is running an unofficial campaign to become the next secretary of state. For once, he looks artful, as well as ambitious.

His recent opinion piece in the New York Times said what President Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t: Mubarak must go.

Kerry’s conclusion was elegant, but unequivocal: “President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure.’’

Vennochi then looks back to the recent past and states:

Secretary of state is the spot Kerry wanted when Barack Obama won the presidency. He lost out to Hillary Clinton and Obama’s “team of rivals.’’ But his fallback position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee provides a powerful platform to press his case.

There has been plenty of speculation recently that Hillary Clinton may not be interested in a 2nd term as Secretary of State. She has said as much. And that of course leads to more speculation that if she isn’t, then Kerry with his “strong voice on Foreign Relations” would be the man for the job.

Speculation about Kerry’s designs on Foggy Bottom aside, it’s clear how valuable a strong voice on Foreign Relations can be. In a situation as fluid and fraught as Egypt’s, where every administration statement must be couched in cautious diplo-speak, Kerry is someone who can (and did) take a firmer position early on without knocking the administration’s official stance off kilter.

My personal opinion is he should have gotten it the first time around. If he’s angling for the job now, with a little less than 2 years to go, if he keeps going on the course he’s set of late, there’ll be no question in my opinion that he’ll be our next Secretary of State.

But, 2 years is a long way away… For now, I think Senator Kerry will continue to mark his course as the senior Senator of Massachusetts who takes his job as Senator very seriously. It’s my understanding that Kerry is quite happy doing exactly what he’s doing and has no designs on switching jobs.

UPDATE: ABC’s The Note has a piece about Vennochi’s crystal ball speculations that includes a response from Kerry’s staff:

ABC News called Senator Kerry’s office to ask if he is, in fact, running an “unofficial campaign” to become the next Secretary of State.  The answer:  a firm NO that came in the form of a 148-word statement Kerry spokesman Jodi Seth.

“I don’t know what else we can do to stop the parlor game speculation about who’s coming and who’s going,” the statement began.  “Lord knows we’ve knocked it down a thousand times over, and at a time of such challenge for American foreign policy the punditry is especially unwelcome and unhelpful.”

And there’s more.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed one iota is that John Kerry loves his job as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and as the senior senator from Massachusetts,” the statement continued. “He worked a long time to get this job, and doing your job so well doesn’t mean you’re auditioning for another job.”

And, still more:

“So one last time: the only job John Kerry is contemplating, or considering, is the one job he already has, and he isn’t looking elsewhere. Sometimes in politics, no really means no, and sometimes the best place to be really is the place you already are, end of story.”

Kerry will be on “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning (10:30 et) discussing the latest on Egypt. Be sure to tune in…

Related Posts:

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  • John Kerry: Allying Ourselves With the Next Egypt
  • Kerry Speaks On 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
  • John Kerry Calls for Civility, Bipartisan Leadership in Washington
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