Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some Predictions, Part 2: Cabinet

I originally discussed this question here, here and here. The picture has changed a little, seeing who has helped the most or not at all. A summary of the previous discussions:
  1. Tom Daschle can get any post he wants, he's been that important.
  2. State: Gov. Richardson (D-NM),
  3. Def.: Fmr Sen. (D-GA) Sam Nunn.
  4. AG: Sen. Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Kerry (D-MA)
  5. Treas.: Fmr Sec Robert Reich, Mayor Bloomberg, Fmr NJ Sen Bradley, Fmr Commerce Sec Daley.
  6. Others John Edwards: HUD, Interior or Labor.
Since then, there have been changes in the world. First of all, John Edwards is out, permanently. Also, Hillary Clinton - whom I still haven't forgiven for her disgraceful primary behavior - won't want a cabinet post. She will want to stay in the Senate - where the money is. Moreover, it's unclear if Obama needs to pay her any lip service at all, especially if he has some women in prominent places in the cabinet. Moreover, I think that Richardson hasn't proven himself so useful, so why put him in State except for tokenism? That could open up.

The biggest change from these May predictions is the new necessity of real talent/gravitas in the Secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce. Why - because these two posts will be the most important of the cabinet in terms of the #1 perceived problem - the economy (I say perceived because I believe that there are two more important: Attorney General, to reverse the grave civil liberties abuses, then Defense/Homeland Security to get us out of Iraq and to protect us at home; the Iraq War is directly related to the cratering economy and the Homeland Security department needs to be eliminated and put back to the original offices)

My feeling is that Obama may choose Paul Krugman for either post. Krugman just won a Nobel prize, was a well-known and prescient critic of Bush and the Housing Bubble, and was also a Hillary supporter and a bastard toward Obama. BHO seems to follow the Lincolnian "cabinet of rivals" doctrine, something that I respect highly about both men. By choosing Krugman, BHO will show his independence, veneration of competence, and strength of character.

Another possible option for either is Barney Frank. He's been in the House since 1981 and is the current chair of Financial Services. I think that Obama may feel compelled to put an openly gay person in the cabinet and Treasury (asop Commerce) may be enough of a carrot to get a powerful congressman to leave his chairmanship.

A person I overlooked in May was Dick Gephart. He was House majority leader for a while, and his staff has been a huge help to Obama. Possibly Labor. Another strong possibility is Cory Booker for HUD, or some other low level post (Booker is a Rhodes Scholar, current mayor of Newark and was thought to be more likely than Obama to be first black president... but he's only a mayor, of a cruddy town, and after a term in HUD or Education he can run for Senate/Governor).

Some people who have distinguished themselves in the general election who need to be repaid:
  1. Gov. Sebelius, who I thought as a good VP pick, should get a cabinet post.
  2. Gov. Napolitano should run against McCain for Senate in 2010. TPM reported yesterday that current polls show McCain losing to her by 53%-45%! Stunning when you think of it. But McCain may retire on November 5 and I don't know if she can resign as governor after appointing herself as Senator...
  3. Colin Powell crucial endorsement a few days ago has now put him in the cabinet running. Ideologically I don't want a Republican to be in either Defense or NSA - I want to break the myth that only republicans know defense. The myth has been shattered by GWB anyway, so why resurrect it? Powell still may be useful as UN Ambassador, or possibly Ambassador to Iraq (heh heh), or maybe Sec. of Veterans Affairs, if its not beneath him.
  4. Rep. Robert Wexler has done yoeman's work as an Obama surrogate in Florida. Wexler's also an Orthodox Jew and I'd like to see him put in a low-level cabinet position (Transport, Energy) or even Ambassador to Israel. Then, like Booker, after a stint in the Executive he can shoot for Gov/Senate
  5. There are a number of former officials (following my purple rule) that could be useful as well: Gary Hart, Lincoln Chafee, Paul Volcker, Larry Summers, etc.
  6. A last 'cabinet of rivals' thought: Joe Lieberman for Homeland Security. Lieberman has acted shamefully in this election; he has bitten Obama's hand despite BHO's help to Lieberman back in '06. I am especially angered by Joe's hypocrisy: back in 1998 Joe publicly criticized Bill Clinton for the shameful act of adultery etc. Yet 10 years later, Joe is a HUGE supporter of what the TPM has claimed is one of the lowest, evil elections in a century. Where is Joe's outrage now? The fact that he's not calling McCain out for the terrorist smears shows that Joe was opportunistically criticizing Clinton (it did get him VP!) and has lost his moral compass now. So why do I want him to get Homeland Security. Even beyond the rivals idea, it because it will get Lieberman out of the Senate and then Obama can dissolve the whole department. Har.

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