HONG KONG — President Barack Obama is currently reshuffling his national security team after his re-election, and top on his list of tasks is to find a replacement for Hillary Clinton at the State Department. So far, two names have come to the fore: Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
Both have their supporters as well as their critics, and I don’t intend to disparage either one. The always-illuminating New York Times columnist Tom Friedman put forth an innovative choice of his own for the job. But I have my own pick for the post: Fred Rogers.
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Jamie, not only is Mr. Rogers not seeking the job and not only does he have no foreign policy experience to speak of, but he is also dead.”
And in fact, the dead thing is actually a really good point. So scratch Mr. Rogers. Forget I even recommended him.
The real person who I think should be secretary of state is Sylvester Stallone.
I know at first blush this seems like a strange choice. But it all depends on what you think a secretary of state should do in the 21st and — for those of you forward-thinking enough — 22nd centuries. So here’s why I’m nominating Stallone (full disclosure: I don’t have the power to nominate anybody for secretary of state).
Let’s start with the obvious. A big part of the job of secretary of state is intimidation. Even at 66, Stallone is pretty intimidating, especially to those who confuse him for the characters he has played in movies. It isn’t too far-fetched to believe that we could achieve some foreign policy successes from this fact alone. Believe you me, Vladimir Putin and Bibi Netanyahu aren’t going to roll over Rocky Balboa.
But on a more completely irrelevant level, wouldn’t it also be nice if we had a secretary of state who could start a conversation with a Hamas leader by asking them if they want an autograph and a picture with him, instead of whether they think Israel should exist?
Stallone could bring together multiple constituencies, because what constituency leader wouldn’t want a picture with Stallone sporting boxing gloves and looking at them menacingly? If the price is that they have to talk to so-and-so who they hate, so be it.