He wants the job, he can do the job, he deserves the job. But he shouldn't be given
the job. And I say that as a lifelong admirer of John Kerry, now everyone's favorite choice
for Secretary of State.
Why shouldn't he have the gig? Because the Republican war on Rice had the Machiavellian goal of moving John Kerry out of the Senate, opening up a chair for Scott Brown. The number crunchers are already doping out Brown's chances
Brown's loss in his 2012 race to Senator-elect Liz Warren was, at least partially, because of the demographics in presidential elections. Black voters turned out in higher numbers for Obama than they would have otherwise; 18- to 29-year-old turnout also is usually depressed in non-presidential years.
I wanted to find out what Brown's loss in 2012 might have looked like under the 2010 special election turnout. The problem is that there were no exit polls taken for the special election. There was a survey conducted by telephone afterward, but exit polls tend to find more minorities and younger people than telephone surveys. The 2012 exit poll also found an electorate that was actually 7pt more white in 2012 than in 2008, which a whole host of evidence indicates was almost certainly not the case.
We can still get a decent idea of what would have occurred in special and midterm elections based on a number of factors, including voter age, ideology (more consistent from survey to survey than party identification), and race. Warren's margin of victory of 7pt in 2012 probably would have dropped by to only a 4pt win with special election or midterm turnout. This is not enough to erase her margin of victory, yet it's a significant reduction. Without Obama on the top of the ticket, you could make the argument that Brown might have made it much closer.
There's something evil about such calculations, yet the argument has a certain persuasive power. Brown has a chance to become a senator again -- not a good chance, but also not a bad chance. And you can bet that the Republicans will pour a ton
of cash into a Brown race.
Brown himself has hinted at a new run
“As I’ve said many times before, victory and defeat is temporary,” he told colleagues. “Depending on what happens, and where we go, all of us, we may obviously meet again.
He opposes any changes to the filibuster process. Ominous.
Here's another argument against Kerry: He has the backing of David Ignatius
, whom Glenn Greenwald once called "the CIA's spokesman at The Washington Post." (Correction: The current
CIA spokesman at The Washington Post.)
My preferred choice: Jon Huntsman.
Granted, such a move would be more than a little odd. If Obama picks Hagel for Defense, then replacing Clinton with Huntsman would, in essence, hand two major posts to Republicans. Doing so would piss off a lot of Dems -- including quite a few readers of this humble blog -- but would forevermore blunt all criticism of Obama as overly partisan. (Hell, a number of Cannonfire readers will tell you that Obama has been a moderate Republican all along.)
In the words of this recent piece on Huntsman's presidential race
"There was no edge to his message, no contrast with other candidates, and he was way too subtle," said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, who endorsed Huntsman shortly before the state’s primary. "I appreciated his civility a lot, but I concluded that fundamentally, he’s a diplomat and not a politician."
Okay. So give the guy a job which plays to those skills.
The fact that he speaks Mandarin would certainly be a huge plus. Here's Huntsman
speaking on foreign policy (mostly on China) last October, pointing up one possible reason not
to choose him:
I was supposed to be there a month ago giving a speech, but they canceled my visa. Why? Because I talk too much about human rights and American values, and they know that. And at a time of leadership realignment, the biggest deal in 10 years for them, they didn't want the former U.S. ambassador saying stuff that might create a narrative that they would have to fight. I understand that. But when the transition is done, the crazy American ambassador will be let back in, and I can say whatever I want. As they used to tell me when I was over there was "Women zhongguo ye you zhengzhi"---"We have politics too in China."
I don't think that minor squabble should prove too much of a problem.
There are still a few non
-insane Republicans lurking about, and they deserve encouragement. The wackos look even wackier when compared to a man like Jon Huntsman.
His views on the financial crisis
, as expressed in 2011, had much to recommend them -- arguably, he adopted a more capital-D Democratic stance than did Barack Obama. The next Secretary of State will have to deal with the European debt problem.
I've spent years carping at Obama for being too nice to the opposing team, so it isn't easy for me to say this. But the President should make Jon Huntsman his next Secretary of State.