My reaction? Meh. Why? Yes, it is a highly visible position, but SecState, despite those who lambasted Clinton for Benghazi, is not in the chain of command. Whoever Trump appoints, he (no women mentioned thus far for this post and damn few mentioned at all) will only be "commanding" diplomats and analysts. This is significant,* but not quite the same as:
- SecDef who is in the chain of command of the US armed forces
- Attorney General who has a big impact on what gets prosecuted, who the prosecutors are
- Secretary of Homeland Security (will they rename it Fatherland Security?) who is responsible for nearly all federal law enforcement (ATF, FBI, Immigration, etc but not Secret Service [under Treasury]).
I have indicated my answer, but what do you think is the most important Trump appointment that should be focal point of dissent?— Steve Saideman (@smsaideman) November 14, 2016
Moreover, we have plenty of history of SecStates being marginalized:
- William Rogers was often left out of the loop by Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger.
- Colin Powell served as cover but did not shape the big decisions in GWB's first term.
- Hillary Clinton traveled a lot, but lots of discussion about how Obama was his own Secretary of State. The same can be said for John Kerry.
* Yes, there is the Supreme Court, but the game today is the cabinet.