Thursday, October 9, 2008

The 67th SecState Sweeps

Between Election Day and the first 100 days in office, the biggest decision for the president-elect will inevitably be choosing his cabinet. With less than thirty days to go before Election Day, the Congressional Quarterly is here to help. It has rolled out its “Cabinet Maker,” which allows users to assemble a group of advisers for either an Obama or McCain administration. CQ’s potential appointees (up to three for each cabinet level position) were chosen by CQ’s beat reporters for the various cabinet level positions.

My main interest is on the 67th Secretary of State. CQ has the following potential candidates for SecState in an Obama Administration with their corresponding online votes:

Bill Richardson - 75%

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, despite his long association with the Clintons, endorsed Senator Obama during a crucial time in the democratic race. He has previously served as U.S Representative (New Mexico, 3rd district), UN Ambassador and Secretary of Energy. If appointed the 67th Secretary of State, he would be the first Hispanic to assume the position.

Susan Rice - 13%

Dr. Rice (not related to 66th) previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Clinton’s second term. An Albright protégée, the former Secretary of State reportedly urged Clinton on Rice’s appointment to the AF bureau.

Richard Holbrooke - 12%

He brokered a peace agreement among the warring factions in Bosnia that led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. He lost to Madeleine Albright (64th) when President Clinton picked Warren Christopher’s (63rd) replacement. He has served previously as Ambassador to the UN and to Germany. A former Hillary supporter, he has recently written about the “Calm, Methodical Obama…” for the Huffington Post.

As I ticked these named off my short list, I note that one name is missing: Anthony Lake, who was the National Security Adviser to President Clinton from 1993-1997 and is also one of Senator Obama’s senior foreign policy advisors.

Fareed Zakaria’s name is also on my list. Zakaria, Indian-born, Harvard educated (has a Ph.D in Government) naturalized American author and journalist, has also been floated around but he was quoted as saying, “"[…] I'm not a 'party man,' and you usually have to demonstrate that kind of loyalty to be chosen for government office."

CQ has the following potential candidates for Secretary of State in a McCain Administration with their corresponding online votes:

Joseph Lieberman - 69%

The former Democratic VP candidate is also the 4th term senator from Connecticut. Rumored as John McCain’s original pick for Vice President, he has endorsed and campaigned for McCain, and had made an impassioned argument at the Republican convention in St. Paul that Senator McCain transcends partisanship.

John Negroponte – 22%

He is currently serving as the United States Deputy Secretary of State. Prior to serving in this capacity, he was the first ever Director of National Intelligence. He has served previously as Ambassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, the UN and Iraq. If selected as the 67th Secretary of State, he would only be the second career Foreign Service officer appointed to the position (the only career member of the Foreign Service to have served as Secretary of State was Lawrence S. Eagleburger, who served from December 8, 1992 until January 19, 1993).

R. James Woolsey – 9%

A former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. According to Newsweek, in 2001, he served on CFR Independence Task Forces calling for sweeping reforms of the State Department and for improvements in U.S. public diplomacy efforts against terrorism. He has endorsed McCain and is one of his foreign policy advisors.

I got one out of three on this one. Senator McCain has several foreign policy advisors; I’m truly not sure why Woolsey was picked by the CQ folks over the others for this short-short list. I think "Secretary of State," and I just cannot picture Mr. Woolsey in that role. What does it matter what I can/cannot picture, eh? Although I do think that if Lieberman wants the gig, he'll most certainly get it in a McCain administration.

John Bolton’s name has also been floated around. But given the contentious confirmation hearings following his nomination in 2005 and renomination in 2006 as UN Ambassador, that may be nothing but ice cream float.

One not too surprising thing about the CQ list? Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense who is my favorite cheer leader for the Department of State is leading (63%) in a GOP cabinet and running second (40%) in a Democratic cabinet. Yay!

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