John Kerry for Secretary of State?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 8, 2012

James Traub makes the case–if one can call it a case:

John Kerry is Hillary Clinton in pants. (Yes, I know, Secretary Clinton also wears pants.) He came within a whisker of being president — much closer than she did — and thus enjoys the aura of the almost-commander in chief. He is, like Clinton, a kind of living embodiment of America. He is immensely solemn and judicious, like her, but, unlike her, immensely tall. He is a decorated veteran with the iron grip of the ex-athlete. His baritone voice bespeaks bottomless gravitas. The man looks and acts more like a secretary of state than anyone since George Marshall. As a casting decision, it’s a no-brainer.

It’s important understand what space Kerry, or someone else, would be seeking to fill. With a few important exceptions, Hillary Clinton has not been asked to formulate America foreign policy but rather to represent it, to talk about it, and to execute it. And she has done so almost flawlessly. If she is a conceptual thinker, she has kept her vision to herself. The big thinking in this administration comes from the Big Thinker in the White House, and a very small circle of aides. That is unlikely to change. And Kerry, though deeply familiar with everything and everyone, poses no danger of trying to impose a worldview of his own. He is an implementer, not a thinker. Tell John Kerry to take that hill, and he will take that hill or die trying.

This is supposed to impress us? “Kerry for secretary of state . . . because he’s tall!” “Thinkers need not apply for the top job at the State Department.” I’m amazed that anyone might think this constitutes effective advocacy on behalf of a candidate for the most prestigious position in the cabinet. And I am also amazed that anyone might think that the foreign policy challenges currently facing America will be overcome because John Kerry would be a tall, non-thinking secretary of state.

  • Ryan

    Kerry? Seriously? To paraphrase movie-Longshanks: “Whom do I send? Not my gentle son. The mere sight of him would only encourage an enemy to take over the whole country….”

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