News / USA

John Kerry: First White, Male Secretary of State in 16 Years

The Top US Diplomat - White and Male Againi
X
January 25, 2013 11:48 AM
If confirmed as expected, John Kerry will be the first white male U.S. Secretary of State in about 16 years. So what, if anything, does that mean? VOA's Jeff Seldin takes a look.

John Kerry

If confirmed as expected, John Kerry will be the first white male U.S. Secretary of State in about 16 years.  So what, if anything, does that mean? 

For the first time in almost a decade, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were using the term, "mister," to address a prospective Secretary of State.  

And at least online, it's been causing buzz.  

Jezebel.com - a website aimed at women - recently posted a piece asking satirically, “Is America Ready for a White, Male Secretary of State?”  

After all, the last time a white male had the job was 1997. The Secretary of State was Warren Christopher.  

The jokes mean something, says Professor Robert Thompson speaking via Skype. "These types of jokes, these kinds of questions, are an indication of a lot of little things but one of them is where we would like to be compared to where we are now," he stated.

John Kerry
 
  • Born December 11, 1943, in Colorado
  • Earned bachelor's degree at Yale, law degree at Boston College
  • Massachusetts lieutenant governor from 1983-1985
  • Has been a U.S. senator since 1985
  • Democratic candidate for president in 2004
  • Married to Teresa Heinz

 
Years of diplomatic leadership from Madeleine Albright ... Colin Powell ... Condoleezza Rice ... and Hillary Clinton have left a mark.

Daniel Serwer, with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, says the impact is subtle, but real nonetheless. "Frankly, it encourages more staff who are black, who are women and that certainly has been a dramatic impact in the 16 years in the State Department," Serwer said.

None of that seemed to be on the minds of senators at Thursday's confirmation hearing -- like long-time Kerry friend John McCain, who praised Kerry's "personal qualities."

So, does it matter what the top U.S. diplomat looks like?  Whether it's a man or a woman?  Whether he wears pants or she wears a skirt?  Maybe not.

In the end, it comes down to being tough, says George Mason University Professor Toni-Michelle Travis via Skype. "I think Kerry brings that a certain experience," she said. "A a certain aggressiveness that says we're not weak in any way."

Something that -- in U.S. diplomatic circles -- no longer appears to be relegated to white males.

  • Senator John Kerry emerges after a unanimous vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approving him to become America's next top diplomat, January 29, 2013.
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry arrives on Capitol Hill for the start of his confirmation hearing to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 24, 2013.
  • John Kerry sits before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he has served on for 28 years and led for the past four as he seeks confirmation as U.S. secretary of state, January 24, 2013.
  • John Kerry waves as he walks to the podium to address the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012.
  • Barack Obama works the crowd during his first presidential campaign with John Kerry, during a rally at the College of Charleston campus in South Carolina, where Kerry endorsed Mr. Obama, January 10, 2008.
  • Then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry points toward the audience beside his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry after the presidential debate in Tempe, Arizona, October 13, 2004.
  • Then President George W. Bush and John Kerry greet each other at the end of their first presidential debate at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, September 30, 2004.
  • John Kerry windsurfs off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts when he was the Democratic presidential candidate, August 30, 2004.
  • Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry along with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry greet supporters during a fundraiser when he was the Democratic presidential candidate in Boston, Massachusetts, 2003.
  • Senator John Kerry is swarmed by supporters as he arrives for a re-election victory rally in Boston, Massachusetts, November 5, 1996.
  • John Kerry raises his arms in victory in this November 6, 1984 photo in a Boston hotel where he celebrated his defeat over Ray Shamie, in the Senate race.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ducky657 from: Westerville, OH
January 29, 2013 7:13 AM
Last time I checked Colin Powell was Sec of State from 2001 to 2005. Before you make a statement like a man had not been in that office for sixteen years it might be good to verify it is true!


by: Al Hackle from: Georgia, USA
January 25, 2013 1:37 PM
It's refreshing to see VOA take a tongue-in-cheek approach to a news item. This reminds me of the old Cold War, shortwave days when certain Radio Moscow commentators would try to exhibit a Western-style sense of humor. Their jokes could be amusing, but perhaps not in the way they intended. Their delivery was so deadpan that it seemed a self-parody.


by: Frixxxx from: Viriginia
January 25, 2013 9:12 AM
Why do we care about sex/race of candidate anymore? Can't we just look at the resume and move on?

In Response

by: FireBert from: USA - Moronville
January 25, 2013 1:48 PM
Before long, it may be required to add those features to a resume.

This society, which laments so much about how things are not fair, don't seem to mind that giving special treatment to some groups that are not "equally" represented only reinforces these negative concepts and breeds class, sex, and race warfare.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid