If you have to have a backup plan for nominating a new secretary of state, it would be hard to do better than President Barack Obama's selection of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
The senior senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would replace Hillary Clinton, who has given notice of her desire to step down after four grueling years as one of the most-travelled secretaries of state in U.S. history.
The selection of Clinton was a gutsy move by Obama. His former Democratic rival for the 2008 presidential nomination not only had star power, but many feared that the irrepressible Bill Clinton would prove a liability. Instead, the former first lady and the current president have worked seamlessly together without complication.
Kerry is Plan B following the ferocious right-wing assault on Obama's planned nomination of Susan Rice, our United Nations ambassador.
Rice was a victim of the right-wing preoccupation with the tragedy at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed by terrorists. The issue with Rice was not the State Department incompetence in assessing and responding to mission security needs, for which she had no responsibility. Rather, her sin was following an administration script for talking about the Benghazi assault while U.S. intelligence was pursuing leads to identify the killers.
Did we mention this was during a presidential election campaign?
In any event, Kerry has been a member of the U.S. Senate since 1985, all of that tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee, with the last six years as chairman. He's often travelled in his official capacity and been something of a special envoy for Obama, including yeoman's work in convincing a recalcitrant Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, to hold an election.
He also went to Pakistan to steady our relationship with Islamabad after the unauthorized U.S. incursion to kill Osama bin Laden.
The president and Kerry have their differences on foreign policy, but Kerry is a political pro. He understands the role of a secretary of state perhaps as well as any nominee ever has and Obama has demonstrated his ability to work with a secretary with gravitas.
The Senate does have a constitutional responsibility to confirm the nominations of Cabinet secretaries. But we believe presidents should get their druthers on executive branch appointments except when there is evidence of egregious unfitness for high office.
-- The Oneida Dispatch