When President Obama picks a successor to Hillary Clinton at the State Department, he should give very serious consideration to Rep. Howard Berman. The former chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who lost in his bid for a 16th term, would bring to the job a wealth of experience in foreign policy as well as a proven talent for bipartisan cooperation and maneuvering the legislative morass.
His competition for the job is reportedly Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations. Both are excellent choices.
Berman would be particularly valuable if Obama decides to revive the Middle East peace process. The congressman has the confidence of the Jewish community, Israelis and many leaders in the region.
He lost on Tuesday to a fellow moderate Democrat and Jew, Brad Sherman, who previously represented 60 percent of the residents of the newly drawn San Fernando Valley district, compared to about 20 percent from Berman's old constituency.
Berman has played a prominent role in shaping America’s position abroad, and he has been a prominent leader on foreign policy in his years on the Foreign Affairs Committee, particularly as chairman and more recently as its ranking Democrat. He is one of the most respected foreign policy leaders on Capitol Hill and abroad, consistently demonstrating an imaginative approach to problems. He had the endorsement of several prominent national Republicans, which was recognition of his ability to work across party lines. That is why his name appears on so many pieces of legislation.
The National Journal has described Berman as "one of the most creative members of the House and one of the most clear-sighted operators in American politics." Although active on many issues, he has been described as "not one who gets much publicity.”
Berman has been a leader on policy affecting the Middle East policy as well as Africa, Europe and Asia. He is also a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and has an extensive background in protecting America's intellectual property rights, a major issue in relations with China and several other countries.
He would be an excellent secretary of state.