Who can fill Hillary’s Shoes?

Hillary is moving on from Secretary of State and thinking of a promotion to Commander-in-Chief in 2016.  So assuming President Obama will win the election (since he has 47% of the vote already) then who would replace Clinton as Head of International Drunk-Texting?

Image courtesy of White House, public domain

Here are the top three vying for the position:

1. John Kerry:

Many think that the Massachusetts Senator will get the nod for global ambassador.  I disagree.  There is no doubt that the Senator is highly qualified and has a passion for public service.  He has honorably served his country at home and abroad.  Senator Kerry fought for his country in Vietnam and earned three Purple Hearts for his distinguished service.  He continued his public service at home as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and is now in his fifth term as a U.S. Senator for Massachusetts.  Currently he is the Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Kerry truly has all the work experience necessary to be Secretary of State, but he will not get the job.  Secretary of State Clinton was also a Democratic Senator before taking the job.  Having yet another Democratic Senator in the post may seem unoriginal.  It must also be considered that the Republicans may win back the Senate in November.  If they do, Senator Kerry must have his nomination approved by a Republican Senate.  The Senator is respected by many of his colleagues on the right, but perhaps there will be enough Tea Party lunacy to prevent a successful nomination.  Perhaps after a very divisive election, President Obama may want to appoint a Republican for the job.  This would be nothing new for Obama considering he kept Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense in 2008

2. Leon Panetta: 

Leon Panetta is no stranger to promotions.  Under President Clinton he went from a House Rep to Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  Panetta then went on to become Chief of Staff to President Clinton.  Under President Obama he was Director of the CIA during the Bin Laden raid and is now the Secretary of Defense.  In his second-term, President Obama will need a seasoned veteran of the foreign policy world.  The President will also need to get along with his head diplomat.  Considering the two key posts Panetta has already held, he and the President have an excellent rapport.  Panetta is more than ready to take on the job if he is called upon to do so.

However, there are roadblocks with regards to Panetta becoming Secretary of State.  Panetta was Head of the CIA, the top foreign policy rival of the State Department.  Perhaps Mr. Panetta’s previous job will be resented by some who would work under him in the State Department.  It is also worth considering that Panetta is a Democrat.  After this divisive election, President Obama confronts a similar problem with the choice of Kerry and may appoint a Republican or a seemingly apolitical policy wonk instead.  Also, Panetta is 74 years old; he very well may be looking for a place to retire before looking for a promotion.

3. Susan Rice:

In my opinion, Susan Rice should be the next Secretary of State.  As U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, Rice has the top audition and has a strong case to become head of the diplomatic corps.  Ambassador Rice is a top-tier academic with a BA from Stanford and was a Rhodes Scholar, graduating with an M.Phil. and a D.Phil. in International Relations.  The scholar went on to become a rising star in foreign policy circles while serving in the Clinton White House.  Additionally in the Clinton Administration, Rice was on the National Security Council and became Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

There are two reasons President Obama has been able to claim strong foreign policy credentials in this election: killing Osama Bin Laden and nominating Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

After Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Rice has been the face of President Obama’s foreign policy agenda.  Senator Kerry can be accused by the right of being a partisan creature of Washington and Leon Panetta can be called “scary” for having led the CIA.  Ambassador Rice can only be called smart.  Her education and work experience prove the label is appropriate.  It was thanks to her diplomatic savoir-faire that the Russians signed on to supporting the mission to overthrow Gadhafi.  Ambassador Rice has been the charming face that imposed sanction after sanction on Iran, which is causing its economy to slowly collapse.  She has also shown the world how the United States is actively trying to reclaim the moral high ground as the “city upon a hill” through its diplomacy by trying to get Russia and China to sign on to end the slaughter in Syria.  It is also fair to assume (considering her time in the Clinton years and now in the Obama Administration) that Ambassador Rice’s worldview and politics are very much aligned with those of the Democratic President.

3 Replies to “Who can fill Hillary’s Shoes?”

  1. I’ll admit to being a bit biased, but I’m a bit confused by your conclusions. Fair if you like Rice, but Kerry and Panetta were’nt exactly ruled out. I seriously doubt unoriginality will factor into the Secretary of State choice, and confirmations really aren’t all that difficult so long as you don’t choose a complete extremist. Also, if anything Panetta’s position as Secretary of Defense is more of a roadblock than running the CIA, which coordinates closely with State. Most CIA operations are run out of State’s embassies.

    As for Rice, for such a great deal of concern about confirmations, I think you’re missing some potential flags here as well. Rice has been being torn apart by Republicans the past few weeks for asserting that the Benghazi attack was an act of passion rather than a pre-planned act of terror. I don’t think confirmation is a serious issue, but if it was, Rice wouldn’t be having a picnic. Incidentally, I’m a bit concerned by Rice’s remarks on Benghazi myself, not because of their content, but because they were entirely outside of her portfolio. A diplomat who doesn’t know when to stay quiet is a bit of a concerning idea.

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