It’s been over a week since Al Kamen “outed” Judith McHale as a candidate for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. McHale is one of two contenders after the previous slate was dumped for a fresh start, but McHale apparently remains standing after the other woman declined.
HOWEVER, it is very telling that public diplomacy is nearly completely absent from the DC agenda in the two weeks since the now-Secretary of State’s confirmation. The tell isn’t the secrecy around McHale but the absence of any imperative to fill the job. Other major posts have been filled. Perhaps they are in fact looking for another candidate.
We can only hope movement comes soon. I keep hearing assumptions that because President Obama intuitively “gets” personal engagement / grassroots mobilization / public diplomacy, call it what you will, the rest of government will. The truth is, because the President gets it doesn’t mean the Secretary of State will and it certainly doesn’t mean the to-be-named Under Secretary will be selected based on his or her ability to manage, coordinate, or “implement” public diplomacy in an effective way, let alone “get it”.
If global engagement is so important, it’s time to act on getting an Under Secretary in place. LW and JC may be doing a fine job keeping the ship afloat as they run day to day ops, but office relocation and silence on a new boss, promoter, coordinator, and “resource hound” portends a problem.