With the election behind him and the reality of a second term in front of him, President Obama has to worry about staffing his inner cabinet in light of several members announcing the will either not be returning or will not stay for the entire term. The Washington Post is reporting that the President is considering asking Senator John Kerry to serve as his Secretary of Defense.
The President has his work cut out for him in the sphere of national security. His CIA director, David Patraeus, has recently stepped down over an adultery scandal; Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, says she will not be returning to the team; and current Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, is saying he too is interested in leaving before the end of the term.
Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is said to be coveting the job of Secretary of State, but most analysts are saying the job is a lock for current UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
John O. Brennan, Chief counterterrorism adviser to the President, is considered a lock for the CIA Director job if he wants it. The White House has stressed that no decision has been made about the CIA as of yet.
Rice is under heavy fire from Republicans in Congress for her response to the attacks on the US Consulate in Banghazi, Libya. For weeks after the attack, Rice continued to tell the UN and foreign dignitaries that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic film that was put on YouTube. Her response indicated that she was either intentionally misled or incompetent. Senator Lindsey Graham has said that, given her track record, she would have an incredibly difficult time winning Senate confirmation as Secretary of State. Senator Kerry did not have any comment about a possible nomination to be Secretary of Defense. His spokeswoman, Jodi Seth, said:
“Senator Kerry’s only focus right now is his job as senior senator from Massachusetts and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.”
Administration officials say that Kerry has an intimate knowledge about Defense budgetary procedures from his time in the Senate. He also has strong diplomatic credentials, which can aid him in a job that is increasingly becoming part of the defense portfolio. Administration officials have also recently called Kerry a “war hero” for his time in Vietnam.
There are fears among Democrats that a Kerry nomination would bring back the dreaded Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an organization that came up when Kerry challenged then President George W. Bush for the Presidency. The Swift Boat Veterans launched a very vocal and effective campaign against Kerry claiming that he lied about his service record and pointed out that Kerry was instrumental in the anti-war movement after he was released from the Army. They point out that Kerry threw away his war medals on the steps of the Capital in protest of the war.