Editor's Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
The editorial staff of the Washington Post, surely meant well. They wanted readers to think that Sen. John Kerry’s vast experience in foreign policy over four decades equips him to serve as Secretary of State in the second Obama administration.
The editorial, titled “John Kerry: Well-suited to be Secretary of State,” gets that part right. The natty Mr. Kerry certainly looks the part of a globe-trotting senior U.S. diplomat.
As to his qualifications for that role, we’re reminded of Frederick the Great’s response when he was urged to make a less than stellar general a field marshal. Reminded the only occasionally victorious general had been in every battle for years, Frederick pointed to his mount: “So has my mule. Must I make him a field marshal, too?”
The Post editorialists offer a tour d’horizon of world hot spots and suggests Kerry has already been helpful in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Sudan.
Can anyone point to improvements in U.S. policy toward any of those benighted lands under this administration? Do we really need Kerry’s help to persuade Hamid Karzai take more U.S. gold to hold more dubious elections?
The millions of Christian refugees who have fled Sudan will find cold comfort in the thought that John Kerry has helped smooth their flight.
Pakistan? Only two percent of Pakistani citizens pay taxes, NPR tells us, but now Americans will face tax hikes in part so we can continue lavishing money on a country that hates us.
The Post editorial helpfully reminds us that Kerry was “convinced by” Syria’s cynical Bashir al-Assad that the Damascus butcher was actually a reformer. And this is evidence of his fitness for office?
Perhaps the most curious part of the Post endorsement of Kerry is the notion that defeated presidential candidates have something special to offer as Secretary of State. Nice thought, if it doesn’t collide with the test of history.
Consider William Seward, Lincoln’s defeated rival and hand-picked Sec. of State. Seward gave Lincoln shrewd advice on the Emancipation Proclamation, to be sure, and on shepherding the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery through a lame-duck Congress (as the movie Lincoln memorably records).