Alan Chartock: Ketchup and the president: A love story

Saturday February 2, 2013

John Kerry is secretary of state. Once reported to have been the richest man in the U.S. Senate, albeit partly because of the Heinz 57 Varieties fortune, Kerry is well-positioned to be a great diplomat-in-chief. Story Body:

John Kerry is secretary of state. Once reported to have been the richest man in the U.S. Senate, albeit partly because of the Heinz 57 Varieties fortune, Kerry is well-positioned to be a great diplomat-in-chief.

That said, there are still a few questions in my mind. Millionaire senators occasionally have a penchant for arrogance.

I’ve tried to schedule interviews with Kerry over the years but the only time he actually showed up was when he was running for the Senate. The whole point about democracy is that our public servants are supposed to report to the people.

If they don’t make themselves available for regular interviews (not self-serving Senate floor speeches) how are the people to really know about their characters or beliefs?

Kerry is said to have actively campaigned for the job of secretary of state. I question whether he will remember to report to the president, who is his boss. President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the outgoing secretary, appear to have worked as a team.

Because Obama trusted and liked Clinton, he gave her wide-ranging policy responsibilities. Whether or not Obama and Kerry will have a similar working relationship remains to be seen.


Of course, the president owed Hillary big time. After all, she left the Senate to become secretary of state after coming tantalizingly close to grabbing the golden presidential ring. A lesser person might have harbored some major resentment and let it show, but in signing on with the new president, she publicly declared her fealty and a bond was formed.

Their outgoing interview on "60 Minutes" was a metaphorical kiss goodbye from the president to Clinton -- or was it? Clinton is the most admired woman in the world.

If you’re Obama, you might just say, "Let some of that rub off on me." But, of course, it is looking more and more like that big contest for the presidency may well come down to Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, who are both wildly popular in the party.

This is going to be interesting. Sooner or later, Obama will have to anoint his favorite. We do know that women might well resent Obama should he choose Biden over Clinton.


With Kerry gone, it was up to one of my favorite politicians, Gov. Deval Patrick, to appoint his successor. He selected his longtime and politically invisible aide, Mo Cowan, to take Kerry’s place.

From day one, Patrick has said that whoever he appoints will be a place holder until the special election.

I, personally, would not have done it that way. I would have chosen the candidate most likely to beat Republican Scott Brown, given him a running start, and hope that I wouldn’t have some clown up there who would vote for the regressive Mitch McConnell to be the head man in the Senate.

Now that Brown has said he won’t run (my bet is that he’ll run for governor when Patrick retires), the Democrats actually have a shot. If Republican Bill Weld runs, he’ll have a good chance so the Democrats better find a good candidate.

I put forward my out of the box choice, James Taylor, but he said no -- although, to my great surprise, he actually considered it. There’s one other person I think could do the job and that is the governor, himself.

He, too, has said no, but the future of the Senate and the United States is at stake. He could win.

If his friend, the president, were to call him up and ask him to do it, maybe he would. Maybe his incredibly bright and accomplished wife, Diane Patrick, would do it. She’s a brilliant writer and top lawyer. The idea that the Democrats were willing to hand the seat to Brown curls my hair.

I have told you U.S. Rep. Ed Markey simply can’t win. His conservative congressional Democratic opponent, Stephen Lynch, has even less of a chance. The Democrats better get off their behinds.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.


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