Build-Your-Own Deval Speculation

Back in the early days of the Barack Obama presidency, when speculation was rampant that Deval Patrick would head to Washington for a post, a well-informed insider type speculated to me that Patrick could be named US Ambassador to China. Didn't happen -- it went to (Republican) Jon Huntsman of Utah. Well, Huntsman just resigned, supposedly to launch a Presidential bid. Could Patrick be under consideration to replace him?

The logic of the idea rested on five things you would want in your Ambassador to China:

1) Close relationship with Obama. The idea is that Chinese leadership want to believe they're dealing with someone with a direct personal line to the President, not someone who is just part of a chain through which messages and directions flow. Clearly Patrick fits this bill. Just as clearly, Huntsman doesn't. So maybe this criteria doesn't really matter -- or maybe it's been a problem with Huntsman, and Obama will be more eager to pick a personal friend this time.

2) Personal wealth. A big part of being an effective ambassador, especially to China, is hosting officials and business leaders, and travelling to visit with them -- basically, wining and dining beyond the actual lean budget. Patrick qualifies.

3) Experience dealing with China. Patrick has more than most people realize -- that market was a big part of his job at Coca-Cola. He's also led a trade mission there as Governor.

4) Confirmability. Patrick would have no trouble getting Senate confirmation.

5) Ability and willingness to pick up and move to China. In theory, that's another checkmark for Patrick -- his daughters are now grown, and there's nothing tethering him here.

Personally, I don't think Patrick would be interested in the job. I think he really intends to serve all, or at least a large chunk, of his second term. And I don't think he -- and especially his wife -- want to be on the other side of the world from their daughters.

Plus, I have no reason to think he's being considered. During the search that ended with Huntsman, I checked in with several very close US-China relations watchers, and none of them had heard any talk of Patrick's name being in the mix.

So, I and not speculating that Governor Patrick will leave to become Ambassador to China. I'm just saying that if you're looking to speculate about something, you might take it under consideration.

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