A Worthy Loss for a Greater Good…
Think for a moment, that we could, had history gone just a bit differently, be in the final days of President John Kerry’s second term. History did not move that way, after a malicious campaign, but fate would deliver no less honor to the career of Massachusetts now-senior US Senator.
Two years after that defeat, Kerry found himself in the majority in the US Senate and two years after that, having endorsed Barack Obama for president, he had hoped to become Secretary of State. Politics, fence-mending, and quite-possibly a grudging respect for her tenacity led Obama to pick Hillary Clinton instead. It was the right choice both at the time and as borne out by history, but it hardly kept Kerry off the diplomatic stage.
Kerry, son of a diplomat, a decorated war hero, but later a voice of conscience, protesting a war that had no seeming end, would prove to be, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, a loyal and reliable soldier for diplomacy. On more than one occasion, President Obama dispatched Kerry to Pakistan and beyond to solve often complex international dilemmas. Not secretary of state, but, in a way, no less valuable.
Of course that set the stage for Friday’s appointment of Kerry as Obama’s next Secretary of State. It came after much public debate over Susan Rice, someone whom we think would also be eminently qualified and was given a suspiciously raw deal from Republicans.
However, despite reports to the contrary, we find it at best even money that Rice was the preferred candidate. Obama owed Kerry a lot, from the latter original endorsement, to the work in Washington on the Foreign Relations Committee, to the work in the world, and of course as stand-in for Mitt Romney during debate prep.
Our concern was, not so much the result of a special election that would come to fill Kerry’s seat (we are of the opinion that Scott Brown, the probable Republican nominee can be beaten again as Democrats will not be asleep at the switch for this special election). Rather, it was the fear that with Massachusetts senior Democrats in the House in the minority and no seniority in the Senate, the commonwealth could lose out on critical issues.
Moreover, we have found Kerry to be a critical voice in the Senate, calm, measured and compassionate. His votes against bill like DOMA, which then passed overwhelmingly, were ahead of their time. Others like his vote against the 2005 Bankruptcy reforms showed an understanding and sympathy too much of the Senate was prepared to ignore back then.
However, at the same time as we feared that loss, we cannot help, but consider the country as a whole. As Kerry has so give his life to public service, so too, must we allow him to move up to a position of national and international importance for the good of the country and the world.
Moreover, while Elizabeth Warren and whomever will join her in the Senate will have less seniority, we are sure that she and (hopefully) her permanent seatmate can carry that legacy of Kerry’s record. Indeed, for example, Elizabeth Warren lobbied hard against the 2005 bankruptcy bill, implying a bit of the soon-to-be-senior senator’s influence on Kerry even then.
Kerry’s experience, his compassion and his emphasis of diplomacy over military might is also the attitude American needs to project. Both from a financial and realistic point of view, America’s battles will be fought and won most effectively through persuasion and wit, not brute force.
Eight years ago, he accepted the Democratic Nomination for President, ironically in Boston, with a “reporting for duty.” Today, we once again see him answering the call, this time from a grateful president. While we will miss his representation and voice on our behalf in the Senate, we fully support this, his greatest calling to date.