From the “Paper of Record”: “Rice’s Blunt Style Endeared Her to President, but Not All”:
Mr. Obama rarely lets his annoyance with foreign leaders show in public; Ms. Rice rarely hides hers. There are moments, one of Ms. Rice’s longtime friends said, “where she says what he’s thinking, but can’t say.” A former White House aide added: “She suffers from the same thing the president suffers from in D.C., which is that she doesn’t want to go around and pat everyone’s back.”
She suffers from not being a “back patter”. Contrast that with stories about George W Bush’s UN Ambassador recess appointment John Bolton who believed the UN was a joke and need not exist. Dick Cheney’s blunt style never cost him an appointment. Also this:
For all the talk of tax increases and debt-cutting, President Obama‘s biggest and most- revealing decision this year may be which candidate he chooses to be his new secretary of state. It will tell us whether the president allows comfort to trump qualification.
Qualifications are sufficient conditions. Rice is a foreign policy scholar, experienced diplomat and strategist. Rice is (as is John Kerry) uniquely qualified to serve as Secretary of State.
Ms. Rice earned an undergraduate degree from Stanford and a master’s degree and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
She spent eight years at the White House and the State Department under President Clinton. Ms. Rice was a member of the National Security Council staff, first as director for international organizations and peacekeeping, and then as a special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs. A protégé of Madeleine K. Albright when Ms. Albright was secretary of state during the Clinton years, Ms. Rice catapulted over more veteran officials in 1997 when she was given the job as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She has special expertise in the problems posed by weak and failed states, global poverty and transnational security threats.
Ms. Rice also has had experience with Al Qaeda — she was the top diplomat for African issues during the 1998 terrorist bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
After working in the Clinton administration, Ms. Rice was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and was also a foreign policy adviser to John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004.
In addition, Obama is very comfortable with John Kerry as a foreign policy. His diplomatic profile, on behalf of the administration has been outsized compared to other Senate Foreign Relation Committee Chairs, Obama used Kerry for debate prep in 2012 and Kerry endorsed Obama in January 2008 over the then “inevitable” Senator Hillary Clinton. All of this may have started with Kerry’s team picking then State Representative Obama to speak at the 2004 DNC.
Any analysis of qualifications has to note that really, what you want to note is the nature of their qualifications as they relate to today’s international political challenges and the President’s agenda.