Obama Needs Kerry, Not Rice, as Secretary of State

The Root's contributing editor David Swerdlick makes the case at the Hill that the president should consider which nominee would be the more politically expedient pick to replace Hillary Clinton.

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Sen. John Kerry (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Root's contributing editor David Swerdlick makes the case at the Hill that the president should consider which nominee -- Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry or United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice -- would be the more politically expedient pick to replace Hillary Clinton.

... By all accounts, Rice is an earnest, loyal and effective Obama lieutenant. But she's never had to appeal to a wider constituency of the American public. By contrast, Kerry is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, a decorated combat veteran and he's served as one of Obama's main shuttle diplomats to Afghanistan during the last four years. He's an elder statesman with enough stature to fill Clinton's prominent shoes.
 
And the intangibles go to Kerry, too: In terms of historic firsts, Rice won't really be seen as a barrier-breaker, since three of the last four secretaries of State have been women and two of the last three have been African Americans. There'd be a synergy though, to Kerry finishing his political career as Obama's secretary of State since Obama's big break on the national political landscape came when he delivered the keynote address at Kerry's 2004 nominating convention.
 
Kerry's reported to want the post at State, but if he'd rather stay in the Senate or possibly replace Leon Panetta as Defense Secretary, then Obama should still consider a figure with a broader profile than Rice -- like, say, Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Read David Swerdlick's entire piece at the Hill.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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