THE BLOG
11/30/2012 03:41 pm ET | Updated Jan 30, 2013

Why Nominate the "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" as the Next Secretary of State?

The Benghazi affair has sadly morphed into a political litmus test as to whether U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice should serve as Secretary of State.

Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso recently told CNN: "She (Rice) just parroted information she was given. A Secretary of State needs to have sound judgment, ask tough questions, and should not be willing to just read talking points."

Too bad Barrasso was not in the Senate in 2003 when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell sold the war against Iraq to the United Nations and the world based on "sources, solid sources."

But Barrasso's critique, and those of his Republican colleagues, is much ado about nothing. At the time of this writing President Barack Obama has not submitted any name for confirmation to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in Foggy Bottom.

In addition to Rice, the name most often tossed around has been Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and current Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations would be a great choice. Kerry, like Rice, possesses impeccable qualifications.

Some opine that nominating Kerry would open his Massachusetts senate seat. That is a possibility, but the president did not have that concern when he nominated Clinton for State, who at the time was the junior senator from New York.

But Republican kerfuffle over Benghazi as a way to derail Rice could be an opportunity for the president to submit a bold and audacious choice for Secretary of State. How about former President William Jefferson Clinton?

That's right, the Big Dog himself. Why not nominate the "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" as the next Secretary of State?

What about the 22nd Amendment? Can a former two-term president serve as Secretary of State? It would be unprecedented, but why not? He would simply remove himself from the line of succession.

Since 1997, Secretary of State has been a model of cabinet diversity. In that span there have been three women and two African Americans: Why not have a husband succeed his wife?

Would anyone question his gravitas? How would foreign leaders view his nomination? What about the American people?

According to the most recent CNN poll, Hillary Clinton leaves office with a 67 percent approval rating, Kerry 40 percent, and Rice 35 percent. One week before Bill Clinton gave his magnificent nomination speech for the president at the Democratic Convention, Gallup had his approval rating at 69 percent.

As a practical manner, the primary question has been: Who could fill Hillary Clinton's shoes? That question would be moot by the nomination of Bill, as would the Benghazi nonsense as it is currently portrayed in the public discourse. Moreover, the nomination process would be perfunctory at best.

Does this bold selection take the notion of a "Team of Rivals" too far for the president's comfort level? Perhaps. Whatever stage Bill Clinton stands he will take the lion's share of the oxygen.

But timidity has never been the pathway to greatness. The familiar reelection chants of "Four more years, four more years!" belie the reality that the second presidential term has a shelf life of roughly 18 months.

Marred by the predicable departure of the Cabinet's best and brightest and the political self interest fostered by the mid-term elections, the president has a small window to achieve his second term goals, especially domestically.

But foreign policy is a different matter. With the exception of any treaty ratification, the president is free to pursue any foreign policy goals until his term expires, unencumbered by Congress.

Would Clinton accept the nomination? Who knows? There is more than enough data to know he still has the fire in the belly and he loves being on the big stage. I have no doubt that he has examined every possible way to circumvent the 22nd Amendment. This would be as close as he could come to the Oval Office in an official capacity.

If he did accept, his motivation would be to further cement the Clinton brand in case another member of his family decides to seek the presidency in 2016.

Mr. President, be bold, go for it. Even if Clinton refuses, your gesture would send a powerful message that you have no intention in your second term to be by hamstrung by the cacophony of your adversaries.

This is not an incitement of Rice, Kerry, or anyone else under consideration. But the president only has one chance at a second term.

Byron Williams is an Oakland pastor and syndicated columnist. He is the author of the forthcoming book: 1963: The Year of Hope and Hostility. E-mail him at byron@byronspeaks.com or visit the website 1963hopeandhostility.com.

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