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Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Cabinet

So, it's that time of year, or every four years, where people who have no connection whatsoever to the functioning of the government and no personal knowledge of any of the personalities involved give unsolicited advice to the President-elect on who he should appoint to his Cabinet. Please don't call it Monday-morning quarterbacking, because Obama's not even President yet; this is Saturday morning quarterbacking(tm).

These are not meant to be guesses as who Obama will pick, but as my unsolicited, advice.

Chief of Staff: Robert Downey Jr. impersonator Rahm Emmanuel sounds pretty good to me.

Secretary of State: Two choices immediately come to mind. Gov. Bill Richardson, who has served extensively as an ambassador and a special envoy on several occasions has the knowledge and disposition to serve as Sec State. The second is Chuck Hagel. Hagel is a prominent Republican and SecState is a prominent position, which makes this a prominent and real show of non-partisanship (as opposed to Bush's token Democrat who served as Secretary of Transportation!) Hagel is a level-headed realist, who doesn't misinterperet realism as a "bomb the fuckers" ideology like a lot of Republicans pretend it is. Like Obama (and Richardson), he sees the need for both diplomacy and force-- the carrot and the stick.

Secretary of Defence: I like Wesley Clark. He has solid military credentials, having made a career of it, as well as the needed diplomatic experience, having headed NATO and the Kosovo Campaign. I'm always a bit nervous throwing generals into high civilian positions, but Clark has spent a decent amount of time as a civilian to calm that concern. I hear a lot of people throwing Hagel's name out there for Sec Def, and while I feel he would perform admirably, I think that it would only reinforce the media's canard that Republicans are stronger on defence than Democrats, which the past eight years have proven compleely wrong with a deadly vengence.

Attorney General: Slightly more than a year ago I would have had no other name on this list than Eliot Spitzer... ooops.... Now my favorite for the job is frm Mississippi AG Mike Moore, who is most famous for some pretty major anti-tobacco suits. I also like current NY AG Andrew Cuomo, fellow New Yorker and former US Attorney Denise O'Donnell or recent Senatorial candidate Rick Noriega.

Secretary of the Interior: Because this position always has to go to a Westerner, how about frm Senator Tom Daschle? Others include former Congressman Brad Carson. Maybe former Republican Senator Gordon Smith?

Secretary of the Treasury: Inviting accusations of "Clinton Retread" I like Larry Summers. I think he did an excellent job as Secretary of the Treasury during the 90's (remember surpluses?), and I also thought he was an excellent President of Harvard. PS: I also know that Andrw Cuomo was a Clinton appointee but for a different job. Runner-up: New York Comptroller H.Carl McCall. I think Paul Volcker, while a great Fed Chair, and a very valuable potential advisor is too old for this job, despite all the clamor for his appointment.

Secretary of Agriculture: The man in charge of raising our red meat could be some red meat for liberals with former Texas Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower. Traditionally this job is just about directing subsidies, but something really is rotten in the land of Agriculture and Hightower is someone who could really intelligently lead as America deals with never-before-seen issues in Agriculture like genetically modified foods, industrial farming, new synthetics entering the food-stream. Also I suggest Cornell Professor, farmer and former director of the Ne Jersey Office of Sustainability Rob Young.

Secretary of Commerce: Darcy Burner or former Republican Representative Jim Kolbe.

Secretary of Labor: Lest I be attached the lable of D. Wire Newman retreader, I say that he is the only one, but I must nominate former Secretary of Labor Leo McGarry

Secretary of Health and Human Services: A lot of people would say it is impossible, but I really think that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is the single most qualified person for this job. Her knowledge of and passion for healthcare are unequaled. People say that egos would clash, but I say that she has learned to check her ego at the door in order to get a job done; she has been an effective senator, and after losing the Democratic primaries, she became an effective voice for her former rival Barack Obama.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: A lot of great mayors jump to mind: Ed Rendell, Ron Kirk, Corey Booker, and another Chicaoan Richard Daley-- Daley is a man who knows how to Green a city, but if memory serves, he and Obama may have an icy history. Booker stands out as someone with real fire in his belly, and he has the added bonus of being young and good-looking.

Secretary of Transportation: Labor Unions might balk, but Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher thinks outside the box.

Department of Education: JOEL KLEIN of NYC Public Schools.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Another Illinoisian Tammy Duckworth would be a valuable choice. Senator Bob Corker has executive experience as Mayor of Chattanooga and happens to be a Republican Senator with a tolerable personality who would be replaced by a Democratic governor.

Department of Homeland Security: Former Senator Max Cleland lost his seat in large part because of twisted attacks on his votes to improve the then-proposed DHS. It is fitting that he should be put in charge of the Department he worked hard to see made right instead of quick like the Republicans wanted.

Secretary of Energy: Should he lose his race for the Senate (knock on wood), Archorage Mayor Mark Begich is a loud voice for alternative energy, despite his support of drilling in ANWR.

In making this list, I had in mind the traditional trick of picking Senators of the opposing party who would be replaced by a governor of your own party, or a Representative from a seat you believe your party would pick up in a general election. I was struck by how few Republican senators come from states with Democratic governors. This task was also complicated by the younger generation of senators elected in the late 90's and the 00's who have, simply stated, viciously toxic personalities; many of these people served in the Newt Gingrich-led House of Representatives.

For the love of God, don't appoint liar Colin Powell to anything; his lies have cost America enough already, and his last-minute endorsement of Barack Obama does not buy him absolution for his past sins.

Also, there are a lot of potential presidents in this mix. In fact, a lot of these men and women have already campaigned for the top spot. I think Obama has the dexterity to pull a Team of Rivals and surround himself with potential presidents while still working together as a cohesive unit. You should remember that all of these people are near the top of the line of succession and could find themselves as presidents someday. We should demand excellence and not settle for mediocrity because it is politically safe.

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