Should Joe Biden Pick Romney for State?

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Taegan Goddard has a members-only piece up on Political Wire: Imagining Biden’s Team of Rivals. If Biden is elected — and I will hold my breath until he’s actually sitting behind the Roosevelt Desk and the nuclear codes are safely in his hands — then, Goddard suggests, Biden should consider making Mitt Romney his Secretary of State, similar to the way Lincoln put his rivals in the Cabinet (though technically Romney isn’t Biden’s rival).

It would be foolish to give Romney a position like Treasury secretary, where he’s clearly out of step with the majority of Democrats on economic and tax issues. But what about Secretary of State? Romney identified Russia as a growing threat before either Obama or Biden.

I don’t agree that Obama and Biden didn’t see Russia as a threat, but during the 2012 election Romney did play it up and Obama didn’t. Even so, putting Romney at State would send a strong signal to Russia that we’re not letting them get away with their games.

What would Romney get out of it? Well, first of all, he’s always seemed to be more comfortable on the executive side of government than the legislative. He certainly was willing to be Trump’s SoS. As a Senator, his most significant achievement that comes to my mind is his vote to convict Trump.

That vote means he has no future in today’s Republican party. He owns his Utah Senate seat for as long as he wants it, but until the GOP ranks in the Senate change drastically, he won’t be able to accomplish very much there. Joining Biden’s cabinet gives him a stature and a place in history that the Senate can no longer give him — and Romney has made it clear that his main concern these days is his legacy. Given how he's behaved in the past, his legacy needs a lot of work, too.

So what does Biden get? Here’s Taegan again:

Throughout his career, Biden has shown a willingness to cross party lines and work with Republicans. While that’s impossible with most of Trump’s Republican party today, pulling someone like Romney into his administration could be an important signal to other anti-Trump Republicans.

Granted, State is a very high profile position, and Democrats will not be pleased to see it go to a Republican. But Biden gets a few things out of it: A demonstration that he means it when he says he wants to work with moderate Republicans, which will raise the stature of those few who are left and diminish the influence of the crazies who have over the GOP. It may even encourage the total fracture of the GOP, something that has to happen if the country is to recover from the damage they’ve done over the past 50 years. While I don’t know all of Romney’s foreign policies, his Russia stance is good, and in any case Biden is himself enough of a foreign policy work to run the show — a show which will be stronger if he has Romney’s backing. (This isn’t an exact parallel to the West Wing’s Vinick playing SoS to Matt Santos, but it’s close.)



One drawback is that I was thinking of Susan Rice for State. But she would also do well reprising her role as National Security Adviser.