Tryptophan Coma at the New York Times

Sure, it isn’t easy coming up with provocative and insightful columns time after time, but a post-Thanksgiving funk settled in at the New York Times.

Thomas Friedman suggested President Obama name Arne Duncan as Secretary of State.

This could actually pick up a lot of support from the teachers’ unions, who have been trying to get Arne to leave the country for four years. Since no one else will take this idea seriously, we search in vain for Friedman’s point. He doesn’t make it easy:

A big part of the job is negotiating. Well, anyone who has negotiated with the Chicago Teachers Union, as Duncan did when he was superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools before going to Washington, would find negotiating with the Russians and Chinese a day at the beach. A big part of being secretary of education (and secretary of state) is getting allies and adversaries to agree on things they normally wouldn’t — and making them think that it was all their idea. Trust me, if you can cut such deals with Randi Weingarten, who is president of the American Federation of Teachers, you can do them with Vladimir Putin and Bibi Netanyahu.

This looks like a swipe at Randi, but maybe it’s some sort of backhanded compliment. No matter, because if Duncan became Secretary of State it would open up the Secretary of Education job, and Times columnist Joe Nocera has his own brilliant idea – name Randi Weingarten to the post (he also wants David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense):

With rumors that Arne Duncan may step down as secretary of Education, we nominate Randi Weingarten to replace him. Risky? You bet. But as the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten has long claimed to support education reform, so long as it is done with the nation’s teachers instead of at their expense. Making Weingarten the next education secretary would give her the chance to put her money where her mouth is.

This also looks like a swipe at Randi. Might be time for AFT to set up an editorial board meeting. In any event, I don’t know what rumors Nocera is talking about, since Duncan seems pretty committed to sticking around.

The President of the United States can’t indulge in wacky cabinet appointments. For that kind of comedy, you have to travel west – say, to San Jose, California. The school district needed a new chief business officer, and the obvious choice was… Stephen McMahon, the current president of the San Jose Teachers Association.