As TIME Daily first reported in April, the termination of Richardson's unhappy tenure at the U.N. comes amid a perception that his skills are more suited to a political rather than a diplomatic position. Albright had cut Richardson out of the decision-making loop during the recent Iraq showdown, says Dowell. But Richardson's replacement by the star diplomat who hammered out the Dayton Accord that ended the war in Bosnia was not what she'd had in mind. Dowell notes that a big chunk of foreign policy is already in the hands of National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, and the addition of Holbrooke at the cabinet level may result in a further dilution of Albright's influence.
Bill Richardson was named Energy Secretary today and Richard Holbrooke was nominated to replace him as U.N. ambassador. The big loser, however, could be Madeleine Albright. "Holbrooke's appointment puts Albright in a precarious position at a time when she's coming under attack for her conduct of foreign policy," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "Holbrooke is a powerful voice with a strong track record. He's far more knowledgeable than Richardson was, less dependent on Albright and more difficult for her to rein in."