Monday, December 1, 2008

So, No Barge Pole?

So Barack Obama has selected Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. While part of me wants to give his selection the benefit of the doubt (as we’ve had some unlikely secretaries of state in the past who have gone on to accomplish wonderful things) another part of me wonders why Obama doesn’t keep the Clintons away using someone else’s barge pole.

I suppose I’m having a hard time thinking this is anything more than a political appointment (as if ANY of the appointments in Washington are anything but political). The Clinton name is such a lightning rod for negativity and, frankly, portable bleepstorms that you’d think any savvy politician would keep his or her distance. I love the idea of political reconciliation. But I'm cynical enough to believe that 99.9 percent fo such reconciliation is a carefully-applied veneer meant to disguise the fact that the reconciliated are keeping very close tabs on each other, watching for a moment of weakness. But then again, maybe she’ll be able to avoid the bleepstorms and keep thing working. Time will tell.

Rather than get feverous, however, I decided I’d best spend my time learning something about the office of Secretary of State and where they fit into the big picture.

First of all, the secretary is fourth in the line of succession to the presidency, behind the Vice President, and speakers of the House and Senate. The secretary used to be second in that line, until President Harry S Truman signed into law some legislation that put the House and Senate leaders into the mix, making it so the president could not “appoint” the successor immediately following the Vice President. (Note: That Hillary Clinton will lie at No. 4 on the line of succession is not a concern to me; I’d be much more worried if our current No. 8, Secretary of the Interior (and former Idaho governor) Dirk Kempthorne were to become president.)

Now it’s trivia time: Three secretaries of state have won the Nobel Peace Prize:

George Marshall, secretary under Truman from 1947-1949. Won the prize as the author of the Marshall Plan, which was used to help reconstruct Europe after World War II.

Cordell Hull, secretary under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933-1944. Won the prize for his work in helping to establish the United Nations.

Frank Kellogg, secretary under Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, 1925-1929. Won the prize as co-author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which started out as a treaty of nonaggression between the United States in France but evolved, under Kellogg’s insistence, to a worldwide peace pact that lasted for, well, about three years. But A for effort, man.

So, could Clinton join these ranks? If I’ve learned anything about politics in the United States, anything is possible.

1 comment:

ng2000 said...

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