Why US secretaries of state usually make themselves scarce during party conventions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Jerusalem on Monday, August 24.

This was excerpted from the August 25 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)US secretaries of state usually make themselves scarce during their parties' national conventions, to shield the nation's business abroad from the grubby residue of partisan politics.

In 2012, Hillary Clinton got about as far away as possible — touring Indonesia, China, East Timor and Brunei. In 2016, John Kerry also chose Asia as a refuge from the Democratic convention. During the 2004 Republican convention, Colin Powell hid out in Panama.
But Mike Pompeo, current top US diplomat, did not just miss the memo -- he ripped it up. Trump's secretary of state plans to address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday from Jerusalem, further politicizing America's relationship with Israel and crushing yet another governing norm.
Pompeo's move, while ethically questionable, is entirely consistent with the Trump administration's foreign policy, which on issues from Iran to China and NATO to climate change has often looked like one giant appeal to Trump's base.
He's not even following the standards he imposed upon his staff -- CNN's Jennifer Hansler reports Pompeo warned overseas employees in July not to "improperly engage the Department of State in the political process."
State Department officials insist that Pompeo will speak in his own personal capacity and that no taxpayer funds will be used during the event. And they say his mission fits the letter of the law.
Yet it's mighty convenient that Pompeo just happened to land in Israel -- where the Trump administration recently landed a rare foreign policy victory -- in a plane bearing the distinctive blue and white livery of the US government fleet, during the RNC.
Trump acolytes don't just ignore the ethics that most other administrations observed, they delight in obliterating them -- it validates their anti-establishment outsider mission. Plus, Pompeo is playing a long game: For a 2024 Republican primary hopeful, the chance to speak to the Republican faithful, including crucial evangelical voters, from the Holy City is a political photo op too golden to ignore.