By David Shuster / current.com / @DavidShuster
This morning, much of Washington woke up to the news that John Kerry, who covets the job of secretary of state in President Obama's second term, is under consideration to be secretary of defense.
The leak, to The Washington Post, seems to be the Obama administration's way of softening the news to Kerry and his many supporters. The president's team is saying, "Yes, we owe you a cabinet post. But, no, it won't be the job you want and have worked for."
I feel sorry for John Kerry. His political aspirations the last eight years have been the political equivalent of "always a bridesmaid, never a bride."
On Election Day in 2004, it looked like Kerry was headed toward a victory over President George W. Bush. The Ohio exit polls showed Kerry beating the GOP incumbent by 4 points. But when the votes were counted in the Buckeye State, Kerry fell to Bush by 2 points and lost the election.
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Earlier that year, Kerry had given the keynote speech at the Democratic convention to an Illinois state senator and U.S. Senate candidate named Barack Obama.
Without that platform, Mr. Obama wouldn't have had a presidential campaign opportunity in 2008. Yet now, after Kerry put Obama on the national stage, showed absolute loyalty to his presidency, leveraged personal connections with worldwide leaders like Hamid Karzai to help the administration's State Department and fiercely defended Mr. Obama during this past presidential campaign on all issues, including Benghazi, the reward for John Kerry is to be secretary of defense at a time of Pentagon downsizing?
John Kerry is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He doesn't even serve on the Armed Services Committee. Oh, and his military service was more than 40 years ago. Adding insult to injury in the story about Kerry being considered for secretary of defense is the report that President Obama wants U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to take the secretary of state job that Kerry wants.
I have interviewed Susan Rice many times and admire her greatly. However, she was the lead Obama administration spokesperson on the controversial Benghazi violence. Selecting Rice to be secretary of state will turn her confirmation hearing into a nasty and brutal confrontation over the administration's false Benghazi narrative that she helped to perpetuate.
Fairly or not, it will be a political circus. Choosing this kind of fight is short-sighted. It will eat up crucial political capital the president is going to need for battles with Republicans over the budget and new economic programs.
John Kerry has more than earned the cabinet post of secretary of state that he desires. And his experience makes him the best person for the job. If The Washington Post story is accurate, the White House is about to look incredibly disloyal to Kerry and remarkably tone deaf politically.
Mr. President, don't do it. Swallow whatever personal connection you have with Ambassador Rice that doesn't exist between you and Sen. Kerry, and don't give the GOP any more excuses to dredge up "Benghazi" and take attention away from more pressing concerns. Nominate John Kerry to be secretary of state and move on.
(Photo from Getty Images)
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