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Obama nominates Sen. John Kerry for Secretary of State

2nd January 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Hazel Trice Edney
Contributing Writer

( — U. S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has been nominated by President Obama as the nation’s next secretary of state to succeed Hillary Clinton. Clinton has decided to leave the position at the end of Obama’s first term.

Kerry’s nomination comes after United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice told the President that she was removing her name from consideration in order to avoid a “disruptive and costly” nomination process. Rice withdrew while under fire from Republicans who criticized her handling of questions about the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of three Americans.

President Obama vehemently defended Rice, characterizing the attacks on her as “unfair and misleading”. But he quickly accepted her withdrawal, saying she will remain a “key member” of his national security team. He then nominated Kerry.

“In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role. As the son of a Foreign Service officer, he has a deep respect for the men and women of the State Department – the role they play in advancing our interests and values, the risks that they undertake and the sacrifices that they make along with their families,” Obama said in his nomination December 21. “Having served with valor in Vietnam, he understands that we have a responsibility to use American power wisely, especially our military power. And he knows, from personal experience, that when we send our troops into harm’s way, we must give them the sound strategy, a clear mission, and the resources that they need to get the job done.”

Though civil rights groups had united in strong defense of Rice, Kerry’s nomination will likely receive swift confirmation by his colleagues in the predominately Democratic Senate. He was Democratic nominee for President in 2004, but lost his presidential bid to George W. Bush.

In fact, Kerry will likely receive strong support from the entire Senate since there has been no Republican uprising against him. He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and – as Obama pointed out – “played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years.”

The jury is still out on how Kerry will be received among African-American organizations. Many had aligned their support firmly behind Rice. The Black Woman’s Roundtable and the State of the Black World, 21st Century both circulated petitions for her support and dozens of Black organizational heads that united in a December 3 press conference also announced their backing of Rice. That group was led by National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial.

In the Senate for 27 years, Kerry received a grade of B on the NAACP Civil Rights Federal Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress, voting with the organization 87 percent of the time. The 87 percent appeared to be based on the fact that Kerry did not vote on two bills that the NAACP supported. One was to fund the Special Supplemental Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children. The other was to support collective bargaining rights for employees of the Transportation Security Admini­stration. He received a grade of A —100 percent —in the 111 Congress.

As secretary of state, Kerry’s job will be far removed from domestic issues. The secretary of state’s primary responsibility as a member of the president’s cabinet is to head the Department of State, which is mainly concerned with foreign affairs.

“As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we’ve got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they’re working together—diplomatic and development, economic and political, military and intelligence—as well as the power of our values which inspire so many people around the world,” Obama said. “Over these many years, John has earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training. He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. I think it’s fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers, or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry. And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.”

Obama praised Clinton, who is still recuperating from a concussion sustained when she fainted with a stomach virus.

“One of the most important people in this whole transformation has been our outstanding Secretary of State, my friend, Secretary Hillary Clinton,” Obama said. “Over the last four years, Hillary has been everywhere – both in terms of her travels, which have seen her represent America in more countries than any previous Secretary of State, and through her tireless work to restore our global leadership.”

He added, “I had a chance to talk to her earlier today, and she is in good spirits and could not be more excited about the announcement that I’m making.”

This article was originally published in the December 31, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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