Following up on Rachel's report on last night's show, it appears some high-profile figures are being considered for top posts in a second-term Obama administration. In both cases, the political implications are significant.
President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.John O. Brennan, Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency's acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently.
Let's take these one at a time. If Kerry departs from the Senate for a cabinet post -- any cabinet post -- Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) would appoint a temporary replacement before a special election could be held to fill the seat until 2014. Democrats would run the risk of losing the seat to, among others, outgoing Sen. Scott Brown (R).
Complicating matters, Patrick himself is rumored to be under consideration for a cabinet post, and for all we know, he might also be considering Kerry's Senate seat for himself.
As for Rice, Republicans, most notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), are inclined to blame the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for sharing incomplete information the week of the Benghazi attack. President Obama reportedly doesn't care about the GOP sniping -- why Graham would be so intent on punishing Rice over this is unclear, but Republicans have become rather unhinged when it comes to the deadly terrorism in Benghazi -- and would apparently go to the mat for her nomination.
"The question is, does the president want to launch a major fight with Congress over his choice of secretary of state?" Aaron David Miller, a longtime diplomat who is vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told the New York Times.
Except, from Obama's perspective, there's no need for a major fight since Rice has done nothing wrong. And if there's filibuster reform, Republicans may have limited options to stop a possible Rice nomination.