Let’s face it: Secretary of State John Kerry has no credibility with allies or Congress. He was excluded from Israel talks and ridiculed for his backtracking on new sanctions to supplement Iran negotiations. But this week we were reminded of another figure who would instantly signal a new mindset in foreign policy and would earn bipartisan confidence in Congress: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). With clarity and a keen understanding of the stakes, he indicted the administration’s current posture in Vienna and argued that Iran negotiations should proceed from a position of strength. He’s been equally clear-eyed on Israel and on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Why not replace Kerry with Menendez? The latter would instantly improve relations between the Senate and White House and signal new energy and determination to protect U.S. interests. He knows how to work with colleagues such as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and has partnered with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on human rights and Iran sanctions issues. Frankly, the president also could use some help with Hispanic voters. Nominating the first Hispanic secretary of state would make up for his utter failure on immigration reform. Menendez would, by the way, be ideally suited to travel to Central America to demand an end to the dumping children on the U.S. border.
I know — whom am I kidding? This president no doubt is delighted with Kerry. They speak the same diplomatic-ese that blurs all moral distinctions. They gravitate toward inactivity. They are constantly taken aback by foes’ aggression. And they seem to think sitting in a conference jaw-boning hardened enemies is the way to achieve our aims. Well maybe the next president — of either party — will find a spot for him.
In any event, for showing us that the Democratic Party is not entirely lacking in moral clarity and foreign policy sophistication we can say well done, Sen. Menendez.