If there is a single appointment Barack Obama could make to signal how dramatically things will change in Washington, it would be to name Albert Gore Jr. — former House member, former senator, former vice president, former presidential nominee and current Custodian of the Planet — as secretary of state. For all the other aspirants to the job, sorry — this is an inconvenient truth.
Can you imagine a bolder statement about a new direction when it comes to global warming and the general care of our abused planet? Gore has won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in this area (and an Oscar, to boot), and his appointment would signal a dramatic shift from the indifference of the Bush era with its cold shoulder to the Kyoto treaty. In one stroke, the United States would emerge as the leader of nations in the effort to save the planet from ourselves — and could prepare for the consequences of a changed world.
The new president’s urgent priority has to be the economy. He has no other choice. But given that Obama has no foreign policy background, he needs a secretary of state who can really run the nation’s foreign affairs while the attention of the White House is largely directed elsewhere. Others are capable of handling the job, including, of course, Sen. John Kerry, who is being mentioned. But Gore has as much experience and something else as well — he was right on the Persian Gulf War (voted yes) and right on the Iraq war (like Obama, he opposed it from the start).
By Richard Cohen
The Washington Post