Friday, December 5, 2008

Corridor Anxieties at the State Department?

AP is reporting today that the new Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton is “moving to surround herself with a cast of die-hard loyalists and veterans of her husband's administration to help her cope with world crises and backstage Washington power plays.” This move is reportedly setting off the anxiety temperature among career foreign service officers. I suspect mostly those at Foggy Bottom, on the upper floors.

Lots of names mentioned, which probably means, folks have been thinking out loud in somebody's presence or staking out the positions they wanted. Or it could simply mean chatter, right?

James Steinberg, President Bill Clinton's former deputy national security adviser, is reportedly in "a lock" to replace Ambassador Negroponte as deputy secretary of state. The leak is from “people close to the transition who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcements have yet been made.” NPR also has a piece on HRC's second in command here. I have no inside track but I’m bored today so I’m allowed to play along in the speculation game.

Other names that may become familiar (or not) shortly after January 20 are below:

Andrew Shapiro: Clinton's Senate foreign policy adviser Lee Feinstein: Deputy Planning Director under Albright and national security adviser during the campaign Maggie Williams: HRC’s Presidential Campaign Manager Cheryl Mills: Former WH Attorney

Huma Abedin: Personal Assistant Philippe Reines: Current senior adviser and spokesman Melanne Verveer: HRC's chief of staff when she was First Lady Doug Hattaway: Former spokesman for Al Gore's 2000 presidential bid; reportedly a favorite to replace Sean McCormack as State Department spokesman James Rubin: Albright's high-profile former spokesman Wendy Sherman: Former Ambassador and Obama Transition Team Leader for State Michael Sheehan: Counterterrorism Coordinator Rand Beers: Law Enforcement; Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Robert Einhorn: Arms Control Expert; Former Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation at the Department of State

Robert Gelbard: Former Ambassador to Indonesia Daniel Kurtzer: Former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt

Dennis Ross: Former Special Middle East Coordinator

Toni Verstandig: Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs Michael Guest: Former Ambassador to Romania under Bush II (He resigned from the Foreign Service last year to protest the State Department's treatment of same-sex partners of diplomats)

AP reports that the prospect of HRC’s personal staff's imminent arrival in Foggy Bottom has been “a hot topic of nervous corridor conversation among many in the professional diplomatic corps who fear they will be frozen out of positions of influence.”

Since I hold no burning ambition to be a letter in the alphabet soup, this has no significant effect on me. But I see why this would be nerve wracking for the senior folks especially those given the folding chairs these last 4-8 years who yearned to be “P” or “M” or whatever letter they dream about at night.

But there’s an upside to this one, really – you may not be undersecretary to nowhere but you still have a job (1.2 million lost their jobs this year alone 1.25 million lost theirs jobs in the last three months alone). It’s not like they’ll give you a pink slip like those political ambassadors that must leave by January 20, right? Plus, we “know” most of these folks except the WH crew, don’t we? Just note the number of “former” in the list above.

Most of all, and this is the most important part – at least you’re not dreaming that the Obama transition can’t offer you a job because they could not find your resume amidst the other 300,000 on and you're not breaking into cold sweat like Anonymous did (who is still waiting for that Obama Team phone call). They may not know your extension, but they know where to find you.

If you’re not at all anxious, you can read about this here. If you are --- anxious, that is, stop reading speculations like these now and go run in the park and have some fresh air. It’ll make you feel better; besides - inauguration day is 45 days away. That’s an awful long time to be in a state of anxiety.

Related Post: Why You Need To Be Gracious – Always

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