John Kerry seems to have been carefully positioning himself during the upheaval in Egypt with an eye for a job he's wanted for years: secretary of state. The Massachusetts senator called on Hosni Mubarak to step down while the White House waited, the Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi notes, capitalizing on Hillary Clinton's looking "unprepared and off-balance" in response to the protests. "For once," Vennochi writes, Kerry "looks artful, as well as ambitious."
Clinton was tapped to be secretary of state after President Obama won the Democratic primary in 2008 and moved to craft his "team of rivals" government. Kerry had to settle for his current gig, chairman of the Senate armed services committee. But Kerry hasn't let it go to waste. He's delivered important speeches lauded by wonks, his support for an Afghanistan surge helped convince Obama to do it, and his committee released a report this week finding that American diplomats in Iraq could find themselves in danger after the U.S. fully withdraws. After decades in the public eye, "it’s about time Kerry finds his voice," Vennochi writes. "Out of crisis, comes opportunity."
Not everyone wants Kerry to seize it, however, though the option may look good to liberals.
- Kerry Is a Needed Voice, Adam Sorensen notes at Time. "Speculation about Kerry's designs on Foggy Bottom aside, it's clear how valuable a strong voice on Foreign Relations can be. In a situation as fluid and fraught as Egypt's, where every administration statement must be couched in cautious diplo-speak, Kerry is someone who can (and did) take a firmer position early on without knocking the administration's official stance off kilter."
- Two Birds with One Stone, Politico's Ben Smith writes. "Such a move would also open another Senate seat in Massachusetts -- solving a potentially messy inter-party feud between the 10 Mass legislators scrambling for 9 seats after redistricting process is complete."
- Thumbs Up, Alan Colmes writes. "Were Hillary Clinton to decide to move on, it would be a great move."
- Obvious Choice, Ron Chusid says at Liberal Values. "At times Kerry has already been considered the de facto Secretary of State. Kerry was the obvious choice for the position when Obama took office but other priorities took precedence. At the time it was more important to get Hillary Clinton out of the Senate where she might have established a conflicting power base, as well as to keep her out of health care policy. With that accomplished, there is no reason to consider anyone else for the position" if Clinton steps down.
- Be Afraid! Sister Toldjah warns. "And if Obama were re-elected, and Kerry got the opportunity to be Secetary of State, a crisis would come from that opportunity – and we and our allies would pay the price ... Just one more reason President Obama needs to be soundly defeated in 2012."