This deal may have been done with the mutual expectation that Froman can continue to play at least part of his old role while also taking on his new one. In my experience, that won’t work. It rarely has in the past. The time and travel demands and bureaucratic rigidities in the system simply make it impossible to do both jobs well. Some balls will get dropped.
The other good news in this nomination is that confirmation is likely to be fairly smooth, with one footnote. Froman is widely respected on Capitol Hill and elsewhere; early reaction has been positive; and it is hard to imagine anyone questioning his credentials or wanting to slow-walk a process when key negotiations are hopefully finishing (TPP) or starting up (TTIP).
One possible catch is hostage-taking – a senator holding up the nomination over a specific issue, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did during the confirmation process for Energy secretary. Having been a victim of that myself, I can say the practice is not only alive and well but growing. Fortunately, it is hard to sustain a hold on a Cabinet nominee (it is those of us in the lesser ranks who linger in confirmation purgatory), and I expect it to be done in time for the TTIP launch in June. And, with the agenda we now have before us on trade policy, that would indeed be a good thing.
Reinsch is president of the National Foreign Trade Council.