Interesting obituary of Lawrence Eagleburger, the only person ever to rise through the Foreign Service to become Secretary of State: link. The fact that he is the only one to have done this is a strong indication of just how influential patronage has been over the course of our history... although there are certainly many things that qualify one for the position, it seems like actually working for State over a number of decades would be high among them. The thing about foreign service officials, however, is that they often serve through many administrations--of both parties. They may develop remarkable expertise, but they also become less identifiably partisan. The obituary, for example, details how Eagleburger regaled a recent State Department audience with tales of his time at State during the Kennedy administration--and Eagleburger was a moderate Republican, with a father he memorably described as being "just to the right of Genghis Khan."
[Photo credit Ron Edmonds/AP/from linked NPR story]
While my foreign policy beliefs may not run parallel to Eagleburger's, I appreciate several of his positions and the perspective he brought to some very complicated situations. More to the point, I love his one-liners, and the linked article includes several.
I am stepping away for a few days; upon my return, I hope to begin a regular "series" or two on this blog as a way of giving it some more specific focus.