When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swore in Ronald E. Neumann, 60, as the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan yesterday, it was a history-making event.
State Department veterans said it is the first time an American has taken an ambassador post once held by his father. Neumann's father, Robert G. Neumann, was the U.S. ambassador to Kabul more than 30 years ago.
State Department records show the elder Neumann being commended in 1972 for efforts to stop narcotics traffic and the cultivation of opium.
That problem has not gone away. The son told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his confirmation hearing last month that "poppy cultivation continues at a dangerous level."
Like his late father, who also was ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the new ambassador has extensive experience in the Arab world. He served 18 months in Baghdad as the U.S. political counselor and was ambassador to Algeria and Bahrain. Neumann speaks Arabic, French and some Farsi.
In Kabul, he will succeed Zalmay Khalilzad, who has become U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
There actually was another father-son combo. Long before the United States created the rank of ambassador in 1893, John Adams and John Quincy Adams each served as minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain.
John Adams held the post from 1785 to 1788; his son, John Quincy Adams, held it from 1815 to 1817, State Department records show. Both, of course, also were U.S. presidents.
Civics lesson alert: The Senate approved a bill to raise the homeland security secretary from last to eighth place in the presidential line of succession.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), passed without objection. The companion House bill, sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), is pending before the Judiciary and Government Reform committees.
If the bill passes the House, the order of those in line to assume the presidency if President Bush is unable to serve would be:
1. Vice President Cheney
2. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
3. Senate President Pro Tem Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
4. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
5. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow
6. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
7. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
8. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
9. Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton
10. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
11. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
12. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao
13. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt
14. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson
15. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta
16. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman
17. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings
18. Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson
The Constitution, however, requires that the president be a natural-born citizen, so Gutierrez, born in Cuba, and Chao, born in Taiwan, would be ineligible.
-- Associated Press