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Lost Opportunities at State

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Sounds like her ladyship, Hilary Clinton is going to get the nod at the State Department. There are two far better choices out there, one of whom didn’t get a look-in, the other who was sold short.

Richard Holbrooke

Richard Holbrooke

Richard Holbrooke

Holbrooke is the only person to have held Assistant SOS positions for two different world regions and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times. He is highly respected on the diplomatic scene and has been involved in some of the most successful and delicate negotiations in recent memory. He’s thoughtful, highly intellligent and probably the single most experienced diplomat of the Clinton era, with hands on experience unlike any other. Perhaps his one mistake was to hitch his wagon to the wrong team during the Presidential contest. He was an advisor to Clinton’s campaign during the primary season. He’s a professor at Brown, and while that’s a great place to be, it’s a huge waste of his talents.

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson has the perfect resume for State. He has been Energy Secretary and UN Ambassador. He publicly broke from the Clintons to endorse Obama after he dropped out of the Presidential race, when it was by no means certain Obama would prevail, and as a result would be a proven ally to the new President, who keeps his own ambitions studiously hidden. Richardson is engaging, forthright, and very savvy. His Hispanic (“brown”) roots will help him with connect with many leading developing nations as global power begins to drift in that direction. His reward for his loyalty for Obama, not to mention delivering New Mexico to the Democratic column for decades to come? The Commerce Department. Not even sure if the appointment comes with a limo.


Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Former First Lady and vanquished Democratic candidate for President 2008, Hillary Clinton is heavily associated with an outmoded brand. Her own. She most certainly doesn’t shout out ‘change’, while her ‘no bull’ approach might rankle in more sensitive negotiations with adversaries. To make matters worse, she clearly has her own agenda, so it will never be certain she’s acting solely on the wishes of the President. She has no experience of day-to-day diplomacy. It’s not certain how “knowing world leaders on first name terms” qualifies her over others. Finally, the appointment is going to be seen as political by the world, and may undermine Obama’s diplomatic influence in international eyes.

Most of Obama’s cabinet choices have been cautious and pragmatic, but the apparent decision to nominate Hillary Clinton seems fraught with political considerations at a time when we need to rebuild America’s diplomatic credentials. It may be a decision he will come to regret.

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