On Tuesday’s show, Alex and her panel discussed a Washington Post report suggesting President Obama will on Friday nominate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be his next Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, respectively.
Kerry is an “honorable” and “qualified” choice to be the nation’s top diplomat, the panel agreed, they couldn’t help weighing his good fortune against the GOP’s harsh treatment of the president’s apparent first choice, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who withdrew her name from consideration last week.
“I do think the White House has to be a little bit careful,” said panelist and former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney. “I think naming two white men in the same week when you just saw an African-American woman who was overly qualified get treated the way she did, and in a cabinet that–let’s face it–could probably use some more diversity anyway, probably not a smart strategic decision.”
Alex also lamented the “disgraceful” way in which Republican senators had treated Rice, before she had even been nominated by the president. “This is a woman who took on the Iranians and the North Koreans and somehow we were told she was too tough? The irony is not lost on me there,” she said.
The panel saw another irony in Kerry–a decorated veteran whose Vietnam military record was attacked by many on the right eight years ago–now being the No. 1 choice of Senate Republicans.
“Kerry looks like the right kind of guy to be Secretary of State in terms of central casting,” Buzzfeed Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith said. But “Susan Rice had something which Kerry doesn’t, which is being extremely close to the president.”
Smith noted that secretaries of state usually fall into one of two categories: “Rock Stars” like Hillary Clinton, who impress foreign diplomats with their elevated status, and those who wield great influence because they clearly have the ear of the president. Smith cited President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State, Jim Baker, as a good example of the latter.
“Kerry seems to fall in between those two things,” Smith said. “I think that’s not necessarily an ideal profile.”