Goodbye Clock, Hello McHale

by Steven R. Corman

Judith McHale was sworn-in yesterday as Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.  Accordingly the Countup Clock that has graced these pages for the last several weeks has been retired.

The final reading was 129 days between President Obama’s inauguration and swearing in the new PD Chief.  As others have noted as well, that’s not much haste relative to the importance of the job, and it does not bode well for the priority that the Obama administration plans to give public diplomacy…at least via State.  As Alvin Snyder points out,  there may be a move afoot to duplicate DoS PD functions in the White House staff.  That would be a bad idea as it would create more complex interdependencies between those responsible for PD, making the strategic communication landscape even more rugged.

Matt says we now need a clock for “when the deeply problematic bureaucratic and functional division between public affairs and public diplomacy within the Under Secretary’s office will be eliminated.”  I would be happy to adapt the old one for that purpose, but I’m not completely sure when we would set the start date, nor what the exit condition would be.  So I think I’ll let Matt handle that one.