Yet they have completely missed Bill Richardson, by far the best qualified Democrat for Secretary of State. Specifically, David Ignatius and Al Kamen, East Coast pundits, have kept the name Bill Richardson out of their columns even though they have been asked to comment on him as a future Secretary of State. Al Kamen listed a lot of Hispanics for cabinet positions recently but left out Richardson . Why? According to him, they were not on anyone else’s list!
Why is Bill Richardson best qualified? A former UN ambassador, he has met, mediated, and negotiated with world leaders. While a member of Congress, he served as a special envoy on many sensitive international missions. During and after serving in the Clinton Administration, he successfully won the release of hostages, American servicemen, and prisoners in Cuba , Iraq , North Korea , and Sudan . He has made five trips to Burma , most recently in October 2012, when he met longtime opposition leaders, including Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
As Secretary of Energy in the Clinton Administration, he had a hand in crafting the targets for the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. He attended the World Energy Summit earlier this year to campaign for worldwide clean energy.
After leaving the Clinton administration, Richardson chaired Freedom House, the private, nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy worldwide. He also worked as a business consultant in Santa Fe and served on several boards including the Natural Resource Defense Council and United Way International.
His executive experience continued as a two-term governor of New Mexico , where he received 69 percent of the voter in his reelection in 2006, the largest margin of victory for any Governor in state history. He was the first governor to adopt the Kyoto Protocol mandates for his state.
In making New Mexico the “Clean Energy State,” he set the goal of having all utilities meet 20% of New Mexico ‘s electrical demand from renewable sources. He also established a Renewable Energy Transmission Authority to deliver New Mexico ‘s world-class renewable resources to market.
Richardson spearheaded a new commercial space industry in New Mexico , anchored by Spaceport America , which is partnering with such private tenants as Virgin Galactic to launch tourists into space. Recently, he was named to the Board of Directors of DayStar Technologies.
A lifelong Democrat, he chaired the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston , campaigned for president in 2008 and pulled out early on seeing growing support for Barack Obama. He campaigned in Florida for Obama’s reelection in 2012.
He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize several times. A strong advocate of human rights, he urged the United States to join the International Criminal Court during an address before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in 2008.
Last week, he was awarded the highest Peruvian decoration, Order of Merit for Distinguished Services, for his contributions to the prestige of Perú and valuable services rendered to the country.
He recently joined U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s national advisory council, a group consisting of hundreds of businesses, nonprofits, and academics that “support a smart power approach of elevating development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.”
Without question, Bill Richardson is the best qualified American to serve as the next Secretary of State.
Michael Haas is a professor of political science at California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona , and author of the recent book “Mr. Calm and Effective: Evaluating the Presidency of Barack Obama.” He lives in the Hollywood Hills and can be reached at (323) 656-5873.