Obama To Nominate Kerry for Secretary of State

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published December 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, calling the veteran U.S. senator the “perfect choice” for America’s top diplomat as he began reshaping his national security team for a second term.

Obama settled on Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, after the front-runner, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration last week.

Even as Obama put one important piece of his revamped Cabinet in place, he held off on naming a new defense secretary. The delay came in the face of a growing backlash from critics of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who is considered a leading candidate to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon.

With Kerry standing at his side, Obama expressed confidence that the senator - a stalwart supporter who has long coveted the State Department job - would win swift confirmation from his Senate colleagues.

“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,” Obama said. “John’s earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training.”

The announcement fell short of the White House’s earlier hopes of rolling out national security appointments, including a new CIA director, all at once before Christmas. That ambition was thwarted not only by the Hagel controversy but other matters that have occupied Obama’s attention - the standoff over the “fiscal cliff” and last week’s Newtown gun massacre.

Kerry, 69, will take over from Clinton, who has been consistently rated as the most popular member of the president’s Cabinet.

But he will also have to pick up the pieces after a scathing official inquiry found serious security lapses by the State Department in the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya - a report that has tarnished the final days of Clinton’s tenure.

Kerry’s nomination follows a political firestorm that engulfed Rice, seen as the early favorite for the State job, spearheaded by Republicans fiercely critical of her role in the administration’s early explanations for the Benghazi assault.

Rice was defended by Obama, but she said on Dec. 13 she was pulling her name from consideration to avoid a potentially lengthy and disruptive confirmation process.

Kerry, known for his role as a Democratic power broker in the Senate, offers no such challenges.

His selection sets a pragmatic tone as Obama begins overhauling his national security team.

Kerry will be the leading Cabinet member charged with tackling pressing global challenges, ranging from upheaval in the Middle East to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West and winding down the war in Afghanistan - all at a time of fiscal austerity at home.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.