By Matthew Lee
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
President Bush intends to name former Washington Post columnist James K. Glassman to lead the State Department's struggling efforts to improve the United States' image abroad, replacing longtime Bush confidante Karen Hughes.
Glassman, now chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, will be named the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, administration officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.
The officials said the choice was expected to be made public by Friday, the day Hughes has set for her departure from the position after two years.
Glassman was chosen in part because he has already won Senate confirmation for his current job, which he began in June, and the administration was looking for someone who could avoid a bruising confirmation fight in an election year, the officials said.
Glassman wrote a weekly column on investing for The Post from 1993 to 2004 and also was a top manager of several publications, including the magazines Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic and U.S. News & World Report and the congressional newspaper Roll Call.
If confirmed, Glassman, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, would take over an outreach operation that has been criticized for being ineffective, particularly in the Muslim world.
Hughes boosted the number of Arabic speakers representing the United States in Arabic media, set up three public relations centers overseas to monitor and respond to the news, and nearly doubled the public diplomacy budget, to almost $900 million annually. Despite her efforts, polls have shown no improvement in the world's view of the United States.