Thursday, June 7, 2012

bipartisan secretary of state - another stupid idea

I don't know Aaron David Miller of Foreign Policy magazine, but I really doubt his wisdom and expertise when it comes to the Secretary of State. A few weeks ago he said that only a few of the officeholders were great, and that Hillary Clinton could never be great in the job because of her"anatomy." I criticized his reasoning then, and feel compelled to do the same in response to his latest piece calling for the next president to name a Secretary of State from the opposite party. While Miller notes that bipartisanship is not always good or achievable in US foreign policy, he thinks it would be nice to have a president and secretary from different parties to show the rest of the world how united we are on foreign policy. That's nice mood music, but it doesn't address the realities of policymaking. What counts is not the background of the nominee but the process the president follows to get advice, make decisions, and oversee compliance. In recent decades, most presidents have relied on their national security adviser -- and Miller has no proposal to deal with that situation. Some Democratic president have named Republicans to top posts at Defense and Treasury, and they have performed well. They may also have helped politically, especially on Capitol Hill. But these nominees succeeded because of their personal chemistry with the president and his White House staff. That's all that really counts.

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