Just like with the Presidency, we’ve had people who, if not unqualified were at least poorly suited for the position of Secretary of State or Secretary of War/Defense.
Most recently, I’d say that President Clinton’s first Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, was a bad fit for the job. He only lasted about a year and ended up resigning after the Black Hawk Down disaster in Mogadishu. As for a recent Secretary of State who was a bad fit, I think I’d point to President Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig. Haig was certainly qualified, but he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way within the Reagan Administration and really made a bad situation worse when Reagan was shot by getting up in front of the press at the White House, incorrectly declaring himself next in line Constitutionally after the President and Vice President, and saying that he was “in control of the government” while the President was in the hospital and the Vice President was flying back to Washington.
First of all, I know it was an innocent typo and I’m totally not one of those people who likes pointing typos out, but Secretary of Stare would be the greatest Cabinet position ever. I would be an amazing Secretary of Stare.
Huntsman would be a fantastic Secretary of State in a Republican or Democratic Administration, but I hope he runs for President. Hillary Clinton would be great. I love Joe Biden. I am completely intrigued by Martin O’Malley. But Jon Huntsman is the type of President that this country sorely needs right now, and I would love to see it happen.
I think Senator Kerry is an excellent choice. He has a wealth of experience in foreign relations due to his lengthy service on that committee in the Senate, is well-known around the world, and has built personal relationships with many international leaders that will serve him and the President well once he takes over at State. I think that Susan Rice got a raw deal over the Benghazi attacks and was unfairly made out to be the scapegoat, but I also think Kerry is a much more solid pick for Secretary of State than Rice would have been.
He was only Secretary of State for two years (1947-1949), but George C. Marshall, in my opinion, was the greatest American diplomat of the past 100 years. Marshall, of course, developed the Marshall Plan, which helped relieve war-torn Europe and won him the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize.
By the way, outside of the State Department, General Marshall probably was one of the most qualified Americans who never served as President of the United States. Marshall was the Army Chief of Staff during World War II and what that means is that he was the guy who basically picked the Generals who won the war. Marshall was a priceless asset to President Roosevelt and President Truman during the war and after the war.
Besides General Marshall, I’d also include Charles Evans Hughes, who served as Secretary of State under President Harding and President Coolidge (and was another guy who probably should have been President himself). Also, Cordell Hull — the longest serving Secretary of State — who served throughout almost three full terms of FDR’s Administration.
Depending on your political affiliation, there are also many who have high opinions of other 20th/21st Century Secretaries of State. Quite frankly, the United States has done historically well — particularly in the last 50 years — with the person that have been put at the helm of the State Department. These names are all people who did some important things that significantly affected American policy and the world as a whole: John Foster Dulles (President Eisenhower), Dean Rusk (President Kennedy and President Johnson), Henry Kissinger (President Nixon and President Ford), George Schulz (President Reagan), James Baker (President Bush 41), and Madeline Albright (President Clinton). Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are tainted by the Iraq War, but Powell is a heavyweight on the world stage and Rice is a remarkable leader. Hillary Clinton is on her way to being a very important Secretary of State and might be the MVP of the Obama Administration so far.