Jim Leach for UN Ambassador


A few days ago, I suggested that outgoing Iowa Congressman and House International Relations Committee Member Jim Leach be made John Bolton’s successor as a “100% Sure Senate-Confirmed” US Ambassador to the United Nations.
Actually, my pal Keith Porter wrote the suggestion to me — and though I was already thinking it — I need to give him credit for the nudge.
Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer gave a “morning hour” speech on the House floor commending Jim Leach, his leadership in international affairs, and the valuable role President Bush should ask him to play as America’s next Ambassador to the United Nations. Republican Congressman Jim Walsh is partnered with Blumenauer in this effort — and later today, the offices of Earl Blumenauer and Jim Walsh will release a “Dear Colleague” to Members in the House and Senate advocating Jim Leach as US Ambassador to the UN.
There are a number of good choices of people we could send — including in my book, current Under Secretary for Global Affairs PAULA DOBRIANSKY, current US Ambassador to Iraq ZALMAY KHALILZAD, RAND strategist JAMES DOBBINS, Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State JOHN BELLINGER, outgoing Senator LINCOLN CHAFEE and numerous others.
But JIM LEACH would fit the bill and bring heft and talents that few can match. I just learned that Leach actually started his career in the Foreign Service and had a stint at the United Nations.
The President would demonstrate that he’s genuinely on a more constructive path if he punctuates the end of the Bolton battle with the nomination of Republican Congressman Jim Leach.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Jim Leach for UN Ambassador

  1. adam m says:

    As a democrat, living in the iowa-illinois (quad-cities) area my entire life, I believe Mr. Leach would be a much needed voice of compromise and reason as our next UN ambassador. There has been no other time in my short twenty eight years on this earth that we need a man of his integrity in such an important post to ensure we do not lose our reputation as a world peace keeper


  2. William Gamble says:

    I wrote the following during the campaign. I believe that it is applicable to having Chafee as our ambassador to the United Nations. It would give the rest of the world something that they have not had from the United States for a long time, honesty. They might find the change refreshing.
    The Problem with Lincoln Chafee
    In a representative democracy, each representative is supposed to represent his or her constituents. A senator from Rhode Island would be more concerned with the interests of Rhode Island voters than voters in Ohio or Washington. Unfortunately, with the help of special interest groups and lobbyists of all stripes, the constituency has often narrowed even more to those individuals or groups, who the representative feels can do the most to help him get reelected.
    The problem with Senator Lincoln Chafee is that he does not operate like this. Instead of representing a narrow constituency, he votes as if he represents a broad constituency. He tends to ignore shrill voices from special interests and lobbyists. From an economic perspective he is acting more like an executive than a representative.
    Even worse at times, he seems to ignore the popular press and public opinion. His diffident manner and seemingly nonsensical pronouncements have sometimes left audiences, press secretaries and talk show host speechless. Unlike his father, he seems almost apolitical.
    What has amazed us all is that he gets it right! Whatever is going on between those ears has created the record of a far seeing statesman, who has the courage to speak his mind and follow his principals. The most rare and valuable species of politician.
    In contrast his opponent, Sheldon Whitehouse either got it wrong or ducked the issue. He first came to public prominence when he was appointed by Governor Sundlun to try and clean up the RISDIC crises. He lasted a few months. Appointed by Senator Pell to be US Attorney, he managed to bail before the office prosecuted Buddy Cianci. He left the most controversial political trial of the last ten years to his successor Meg Curran. His tenure at the Attorney General’s office was so unremarkable that he lost the democratic primary.
    Mr. Whitehouse has logically based his campaign on focus group issues in the hope of appealing to the largest number of voters. This tells us that Mr. Whitehouse is interested in one thing, getting elected. Like most politicians, his principals will be determined by narrowest and loudest constituency, not the needs of the general public or the country.
    Despite his unfortunate party affiliation, we have to keep Lincoln Chafee, because, unlike Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John McCain and William Frist, Lincoln Chafee is not trying to contort his views to be acceptable to the latest poll or his core constituency. His core constituency is the people of the United States of America. For being one of our few representatives, we should thank him by giving him our votes.
    William Gamble


  3. ArchPundit says:

    Also to Leach’s credit–he’s been pushing for an investigation into war profiteering.


  4. ArchPundit says:

    For Daniel–both his demeanor and his experience. He’s incredibly bright and analytical and he’s actually, you know, diplomatic.
    I think it’s probably a non-starter given he voted against the war, but he was close with Bush 41 and has excellent credentials. If the elder is starting to reign in the son, Leach might be the guy who could start to dig out from this mess.
    He’s remarkably well thought of in Iowa. David Loebsack (my college advisor) used to even vote for him even though David is a liberal Democrat. David’s point in running against him is that his vote for leadership enabled the Republican leadership. Even then they ran a clean campaign.
    He’s probably better suited than Jack Danforth for the position.
    In his defense, he was also the guy who stopped Robert Rubin and Phil Gramm from passing a banking reform bill that would have removed Depression era restrictions between banks and commerce. While I’d agree that during this administration, moderate Republicans became enablers, he was the guy who stopped Bill Clinton from going too far right at one time.
    Then he lost his committee chair and was kept from getting the International Relations Chair.


  5. Daniel CAZ Greenberg says:

    Steve – which do you think more qualifies Jim for the position, his experience or his demeanor?
    Side note: Norman Orstein of AEI?
    An interesting listen on C-SPAN.. but a lousy comedian. 🙂


  6. jlo says:

    I sent off a letter to Senator Hagel today asking him (albeit as a former constituent) to support Congressman Leach as US Ambassador to the UN. They have effectively served as co-chairs of the Congressional Executive Commission on China and Hagel sits on a political fulcrum that could really push this conscription effort forward.
    I’m curious about the timeline of this whole matter though. Where was the locus of this idea. Was it indeed the blogosphere, or Leach staffers hoping to increase their employment prospects come January, or somewhere/one else? Clearly it’s been out there since at least last Friday when Mark Shields’ weekend column in full praise of Jim Leach first appeared. No one is naive enough to believe that was coincidental timing. The USA Today picked up on the story around 5pm EST today, now the AP is syndicating, meaning it will be in tomorrow’s cycle.
    Another key Senator may be Chris Dodd, or should I say, his top foreign policy staffer and virtual shadow senator, Janice O’Connell. She has been instramental in making sure Bolton doesn’t make it through Committee and it can be expected that her Democratic blessing will be needed no matter the nominee. I think Leach would draw wide support, allowing him to take a strong mandate to the UN.
    Any thoughts on this?


  7. Marky says:

    Moderate Republicans were enslaved by control of their re-election funds and by the threat of promoting conservative candidates against them if they didn’t toe the line.
    The RealPolitik of the neofascist (aka Reagan) revolution was very effective until the election that just passed. Unfortunately for the GOP, and perhaps fortunately for the country, the Republican leadership is still delusional, not only on Iraq, but on whether or not the American public supports their agenda.
    The amoral idiot savants like Rove who created the Republican revolution put decades of work into turning the GOP into a caricature of a policy-oriented party; it will probably take decades for the GOP to recover, if it ever does.
    Who today is the voice in the wilderness comparable to a Goldwater or Buckley of 1964, but in the direction of realism, moderation, fiscal sanity, progressive environmental values?
    There are a few Republicans who speak to these issues, but they have no constituency, no organizations backing them, and no money.
    Do you think Richard Mellon Scaife will suddenly start to pour billions into supporting the candidates and values that, say, Steve endorses?
    On the contrary, he will continue to spend money in support of the William McKinley wing of the GOP, possibly in even greater amounts.
    Some time back I proposed the formation of a third party, calling itself the Conservative Party, which would repudiate the God wing and the fascist wing of the GOP, and put itself more in line with right-leaning parties in Europe.
    Now would be a good time to announce such a party, should any of the moderates of the GOP both become realists and develop spines.
    Two issues which could define the new party are:
    1) total dedication to environmental values and combatting global warming and 2) formulating a policy which is against corporate control of governmental policy while at the same time being pro-business.


  8. MNPundit says:

    M. Roston I’m at Drake now and I can definitely see the opinion you’re talking about around here.
    It is unfortunately wrong.
    I have nothing against Jim Leach in fact I would vote for him for UN Ambassador but he exercised just about ZERO moderating influence on the insane power-mongers of the GOP leadership. The only thing he provided in the House currently, was the R next to his name that signaled that people got a chance to vote for Tom DeLay or Hastert or Blunt or Boehner. Even if he didn’t vote for them, his very presence as an R was an enabling factor as we’ve seen give the GOP a millimeter and they’ll take 10 miles.


  9. HyperIon says:

    I first saw Leach on McNeil-Lehrer more than 20 years ago. He was very refreshing. Not high profile but solid on issues.
    I remember thinking “Wow, I could vote for a republican like that.” I was sorry to hear of his loss last week.
    Does he have a real chance at this post? Or are you just thinking wishfully?


  10. gq says:

    I don’t think Chafee will get the nod–he repudiated Bush too much. What role is there for Chafee in today’s political climate?


  11. Marky says:

    Another question: assuming you think the US should try again to create a settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, who do you think should be the US envoy?
    If you’re successful stopping Bolton, he might be free to use his brass-knuckles to bring peace and tranquility to that region.


  12. Michael Roston says:

    I’m glad to hear this initiative is moving forward. As a graduate of the University of Iowa who had many classmates who ended up working as staffers for Rep. Leach, I was staggered to see his defeat. While redistricting hadn’t been great to Leach, I have to wonder if a Congress where Jim Leach goes out while Jean Schmidt stays in is a Congress that we want, even with a Democrat Majority. Leach was a voice of moderation and sense, and could do more to enable positive US-UN relations and advance the goal of UN reform better than any Ambassador this country has ever sent to this institution.
    Thanks for raising the profile of this issue.


  13. daCascadian says:

    Nice choice but I`m thinking that Joe Wilson would be a better one. Aside from being a professional diplomat Mr. Wilson would be the cause of severe heart burn on the Thuglican side which is ALWAYS a good thing.
    “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


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