Joan Vennochi Makes The Case For Kerry As Secretary Of State

Over the many years that I have been blogging about Senator John Kerry, Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi has not always seen things eye to eye with Kerry, nor has been consistently in his corner. Needless to say, I was surprised and pleased to see her column today making the case for Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State:

Senator John Kerry deserves to be the next secretary of state because he is the best person for the job.

The longtime Massachusetts senator who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has the background and experience required for the nation’s top diplomatic post. He has also been a good and loyal soldier for President Obama.

But the president seems to prefer Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, for the secretary of state position.

Who President Obama seems to prefer at this point and who may more easily get confirmed as Secretary of State, seems to be at odds as Senator John McCain is threatening to filibuster Rice’s nomination.

As Joan Vennochi notes:

Whether Obama likes it or not, Rice isn’t the best choice. The Benghazi controversy weakens her. Why get into a fight on her behalf when there are fiscal policy clashes ahead — especially when Kerry’s a better and more politically palatable alternative?

“I think he’d be much more easily confirmed in the Senate than Susan Rice,” Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming told Politico.

Kerry’s aides are of course staying mum on the topic of a possible nomination for Kerry to the Cabinet, either as Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense.

Joan Vennochi eloquently points out all of the many reasons why Kerry is the right choice for Secretary of State in her column, including Kerry’s role in “launching Obama as a national political figure.”

Vennochi reminds us that “Kerry was in the running to become secretary of state after Obama’s 2008 victory” but  “the job went to Clinton.”

Kerry didn’t sulk,” says Vennochi, “He stood by Obama and backed him up when he needed support on a troop surge in Afghanistan.”

Last July, a New York Times Magazine article by James Traub described Kerry as “a kind of ex-officio member of Obama’s national security team, which has dispatched him to face one crisis after another in danger zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan.”

Kerry paved the way for Obama by calling upon Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to “step aside gracefully.” He has been criticized for buying into the notion of Syrian President Bashar Assad as reformer. But as Kerry told Traub, “Countries and people and leaders of countries act out of self-interest. Foreign policy is the art of finding those interests and seeing what serves your nation and trying to marry them.” Sometimes, divorce is the end result, but diplomats have to be open to marriage, too.

This week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins closed hearings on the Benghazi attack. It’s a new window of opportunity for Kerry.

Unlike Rice, Kerry has credibility on Benghazi. Kerry would never publicly criticize the White House. But, according to a Sept. 27 post in The Cable, a foreign policy blog, Kerry, has privately “been pressing the administration for answers” about what happened in Benghazi.

Good for Kerry. The country deserves answers — and it also deserves a secretary of state who understands that loyalty is important, but so is truth.

I’m impressed by Vennochi’s column, obviously. I am however torn, as I mentioned here yesterday, over the possibility of Kerry moving to the Cabinet and leaving his Senate seat up for grabs, as Scott Brown looks for another in after his loss to Elizabeth Warren.

Stay tuned…

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