Friday, November 7, 2008

Secretary of State

The Big Three names mentioned in Secretary of State discussions seem to be Bill Richardson, John Kerry, and Richard Holbrooke. Hillary Clinton, Dick Lugar, and Chris Dodd have also been tossed around as a second-tier of choices (not that they're lower quality, just not mentioned as frequently). Let's take a closer look:

Richard Holbrooke: Watch this.

The considerations against him are political things like the fact he supported Clinton's campaign because he was so important to Bill's administrations. So people say Obama may want to choose someone who supported him, like Bill Richardson. But watch that video and I think you'll see someone crisp who talks and explains things in a way very similar to Obama; step-by-step, in a calm, didactic manner. That has to appeal to Obama.

An excerpt from this Foreign Affairs article written by Richard Holbrooke - titled "The Next President" - shows someone who also pursues Obama's third-way strategy and on a dynamic, difficult subject; greenhouse gas emissions and global warming:

"Here is a seemingly insoluble Catch-22: the major emerging economies will not agree to any treaty containing meaningful limits on their emissions, and the U.S. Senate will not ratify an agreement that does not include them. There is, however, another approach that should be considered, without abandoning the Copenhagen process: multiple agreements in which various combinations of nations address specific parts of the larger problem. In such a collection of agreements, there would be a greater opportunity for genuine U.S.-Chinese cooperation. In particular, the two nations could reach bilateral agreements for joint projects on energy-saving, climate-change-friendly technology. The mutually beneficial goal would be an increase in energy efficiency and a reduction in carbon emissions in both countries."

That said, in the Charlie Rose interview, Holbrooke sounds a somewhat hawkish tone towards the Russia - Georgia conflict and Russia in general. However, no more hawkish than Obama, I should note. I really disagree with the way everyone in our government has addressed Russia lately and I think we're taking far too hard a line against a country that is way more bark than bite. I could go into this for a couple days here, but I'll save it for some big policy analysis or something.

I think, however, I'm a Holbrooke fan for Secretary of State.

Bill Richardson: Please no. I like Bill a lot, he's affable and funny and smart but he thinks everything can be solved with a shot of vodka and a bear hug. I'm oversimplifying this, of course, but my favorite Bill Richardson story is indicative (I can't find the citation on this, so it's coming from memory): Richardson was meeting with Saddam Hussein in a negotiation and after coming to an agreement on a contentious point, Richardson clapped Hussein on the back to celebrate their consensus. Nonplussed, Saddam's bodyguards pulled their weapons on Richardson. Not that that's a reason to go against him, I just don't find him serious enough for the position when there are other good candidates out there.

John Kerry: I think I would be surprised if Obama went this way. It just seems like he's going to end up pulling too much democratic talent from the Senate with Biden gone and, I expect, Hillary likely to fill a post like Secretary of Health and Human Services or, even, Secretary of Defense (it's been discussed, though I doubt that one). Kerry supported Obama, yes, when Holbrooke didn't, but Holbrooke has considerably more experience than Kerry and far deeper international ties. I don't think I could justify choosing Kerry over Holbrooke.

Others: Sam Nunn, Hillary Clinton, Dick Lugar, and Chuck Hagel are also mentioned in discussions on Secretary of State. I could see Hillary as a pick on experience and depth of knowledge, but I think she'd wind up stepping on toes. The Republicans would freak out, but whatever on that count. Dick Lugar seemed high on the list but he said the other day that he didn't want the job even if it was offered. Chuck Hagel I don't see being a good fit here. In a defense capacity, yes, Secretary of State? No. Sam Nunn would also be a surprise, a little hawkish and also someone I see more in Defense Department.

I'll go with Holbrooke.


Anonymous said...

straight up, Charlie Rose the best.

muffine said...

what do you think of this:

Ol Mucky said...

I don't know, initially I'm disappointed in John Pilger claiming that Barack has said he intends to continue bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama came out explicitly against those campaigns as counter-productive during the election. Not to say bombing would completely end, but Obama realizes its limitations...