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The Secretary of State

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message James Brett     Permalink    (# of views)   9 comments

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It used to be that the Secretary of State was 2nd in line, after the Vice President, for succession in office. Since the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, however, the Secretary of State is fourth, after the Speaker of the House (2nd) and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (3rd). So, advocates of Hillary Clinton should obviously cool their jets about her succeeding to the Presidency, should she be appointed Secretary of State.

The current "front runners" among the pols and pundits are:

Hillary ClintonAl GoreBill Richardson

Each of these brings unique strengths and experience to the job and the decision of which uniqueness is more important is really a difficult choice.

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As the New York Times article about the buzz about Hillary describes, Hillary makes two points, one to the world, that America is a place where politics is civilized and meritocratic, and two domestically, that Obama has a gender agenda and recognizes the 18 million primary votes she got.

Al Gore brings all his goodwill from the 2000 election, but also all of his awards for his Global Warming Campaign. Appointment of Al Gore would send a "free message" to the world that the U.S. is going to take (... as well we should ...) an entirely different view of the climate change situation. Nothing could sell this idea more than Al Gore at the helm and in the Cabinet.

Bill Richardson comes in last alphabetically, but he has invaluable experience in tough situations. He is Hispanic and multi-lingual and would do more to restore friendly relations with Latin America than either of the others, and perhaps this should be seen in terms of two critical issues: the war on drugs and the hemispheric free-trade movement.

In many ways it is a toss-up. One should remember that Secretaries of Departments come and go. We might avail ourselves of more than one Secretary of State in the First Administration. Then the question becomes which one first. I think Candidate Obama and President-Elect Obama has already signaled his highest priority issue: energy. For me this signals Al Gore as Secretary of State for at least two years, probably three.

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During this time, Hillary Clinton should be given a special mission as Senator to lead the Health Care program legislation and then to come into the Cabinet as Secretary of State or of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, Bill Richardson should not be left to languish in the good state of New Mexico. Nothing would do our country better service than to give Richardson a special portfolio for working with Mexico and Columbia and Afghanistan and other drug dispensing countries. You could even give him Homeland Security to figure out, perhaps to dismantle, certainly to coordinate with the new Attorney General who will be working with the FBI to remove the "Stazi" label it has gained recently.



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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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