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Would Obama settle for Kerry as secretary of state?

Today the NOW panel discussed one of the key decisions currently facing President Obama: Rice or Kerry?

Today the NOW panel discussed one of the key decisions currently facing President Obama: Rice or Kerry?

NBC News reported Thursday the president has yet to make up his mind on who the next secretary of state should be, but knows the clock is ticking and could make an announcement as early as next week.

Politico's Glenn Thrush had a different take on the conventional wisdom, suggesting Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was not seen as a viable option at Foggy Bottom by the White House.

"I think there's a very large sense that they do not want to have Kerry as the default and not just for reasons involving the Senate," he said. "I don't think they want him in that particular position."

Thrush said this was one of the factors in President Obama's stubborn defense of Rice at a White House press conference earlier this month. "Clearly he's very close to Ambassador Rice and he think she's a good nominee," Thrush said. "How do I put this delicately? He is not a guy who throws himself in front of the bus for other people, typically."

Another reason, former DNC communications director Karen Finney suggested, was that the president may be itching for a fight.

"This is a fight that the left wants him to take on," she said. "If these guys [Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte] push him, I think it galvanizes some support on the left for the president."

Alex Wagner noted the irony of Republicans on Capitol Hill singing Kerry's praises eight years after they dragged him through the mud as the Democratic nominee. She read aloud an op-ed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal which framed President Obama's choice as one between "the lesser of two evils." The op-ed also noted Kerry "not only threw away his military medals and testified that his fellow soldiers in Vietnam were war criminals, but also said during a 2004 presidential debate that the U.S. shouldn't use its military power without invoking a "global test... "

That Kerry is now the safe choice, she said, is remarkable.

"Republicans have put John Kerry in a divan and tried to carry him to the threshold of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," she said. "The notion that somehow John McCain is going to be standing behind someone like John Kerry who was swiftboated by Republicans and who threw his medals over the [White House] fence—the irony is thick."