Monday, November 24, 2008

Experience You Can Change With

No, this isn't the new slogan of the Dominic LeBlanc campaign. I'm talking about Obama's cabinet. Here's what we know/think we know:

VP: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)
State: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Attorney General: Eric Holder (former Justice Dept official)
Treasury: Tim Geithner (Chair of the New York Federal Reserve)
Homeland Security: Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ)
Defense: Secy. Robert Gates (current Secretary of Defense)?
Commerce: Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)?
Health and Human Services: Fmr. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD)
National Security Advisor: Gen. Jim Jones?

What's Left?

Housing and Urban Development
Veterans' Affairs

I think the talk about Obama tapping too many Washington insiders is ridiculous. I think Obama learned from the opening days of the Clinton administration and is not going to put untested people in charge in what looks to be a crucial first hundred days.

A couple of names to throw around as possibilities in the other portfolios. First, I think the talk of getting Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) in to cabinet is very encouraging. It not only shows bipartisanship, it keeps one of the smartest guys in Washington in town. Obama has ambitious plans for the VA and the decorated Vietnam vet would be a great fit. It would also position him nicely to take over defense once Gates deals with the withdrawal from Iraq. Putting Hagel into the VA for now would also give time for Tammy Duckworth (D) to get more experience at the Illinois VA. Duckworth is the woman Obama laid a wreath with on Veterans' Day (Remembrance Day this side of the border) and is an Iraq vet who lost both her legs in combat. She narrowly lost a congressional race in 2006 and has been praised as innovative for her work at the Illinois VA. I'd love to see her brought to Washington. Colin Powell (R) has been mentioned in terms of Education. I wouldn't mind that one. Energy is going to be a key portfolio. Some talk of Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) but I think three Western governors (Richardson and Napolitano already likely candidates) in Cabinet might be a little much. Although, the governor's chair is less important in Montana with only one Congressional District and, thus, no opportunity for gerrymandering in the upcoming redistricting. Schweitzer, who may be looking at the top job in 2016 (he'll be only 61), would probably want to keep some distance from Obama in case things don't go as well as hoped. Hillary Clinton, who would be 69 in 2016, has apparently decided that her chances of breaking through that glass ceiling are slim to nil. If she still was gunning to be President, she would not be accepting the job in Foggy Bottom.

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