Why should do-nuthin’ Secretary of Education Arne Duncan be the next Secretary of State? According to Thomas Friedman in today’s New York Times,
…anyone who has negotiated with the Chicago Teachers Union, as Duncan did when he was superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools before going to Washington, would find negotiating with the Russians and Chinese a day at the beach. A big part of being secretary of education (and secretary of state) is getting allies and adversaries to agree on things they normally wouldn’t — and making them think that it was all their idea. Trust me, if you can cut such deals with Randi Weingarten, who is president of the American Federation of Teachers, you can do them with Vladimir Putin and Bibi Netanyahu.
This is one of the most unbelievably creative ways that I have ever seen a journalist:
a) pump up someone’s dying career in education policy;
b) put the hate on teachers;
c) revive the practice of discrediting unions through political smears; and
d) cause subscribers to The New York Times to believe that the op-ed page is no longer being overseen by editors.
Because, of course, Randi Weingarten is just like a former KGB officer who is giving vital political and military support to a murderous Syrian regime. And Weingarten is at least as dangerous as a certain reactionary, Torah-thumping head of state who recently launched an eight-day military campaign during which civilian casualties outweighed military casualties by over 15-1.
That’s just what Randi Weingarten would do: drop bombs on a lot of children rather than seek mediation in a contract negotiation gone bad.
And in case you are not yet convinced that Arne Duncan should be Secretary of State, Friedman argues that brokering foreign policy deals with our homegrown Congressional Likud, the Tea Party, is in no way as challenging as dealing with “intimidating” groups called “’parents,’ ‘teachers,’ ‘students’ and ‘school boards.’…For instance,” Friedman muses, “it would be very helpful to have a secretary of state who can start a negotiating session with Hamas leaders (if we ever talk with them) by asking: ‘Do you know how far behind your kids are?’ That might actually work better than: ‘Why don’t you recognize Israel?’”
It might, I guess. Or you could make Ralph Lauren Secretary of State. Instead of sitting down with Hamas and saying, “Why must you blow up Israelis on busses?” he would make a useful suggestion like: “Are you sure you should wear those schmattas in front of the cameras? Have you noticed that Bibi always wears a really nice suit?”
Just to continue the weirdness, I guess, when asked at a press conference about a big career change, Duncan responded that he was more likely to become a stripper (referencing last week’s satirical piece in The Onion) than Secretary of State. Myself — given FBI agents and Congressmen and Senators from Puerto Rico – I would have let that harmless piece of journalistic fun about my complete incompetence die on the vine.
But okay. I’m not Arne. What Duncan doesn’t seem to have done was reprove Thomas Friedman for comparing a well-respected educator and union chief to the chief executives of police states.
Which is yet another reason why Arne Duncan shouldn’t be Secretary of Education either.