New thread on real and rumored Obama cabinet appointments

Looks like the Guardian jumped the gun; Hillary Clinton has not accepted the Secretary of State position and is reportedly still weighing Barack Obama's offer.

Apparently Senator Ted Kennedy wants Hillary to lead the efforts to get health care reform through Congress. That's where I'd like to see her as well, though the cynic in me wonders whether Kennedy is primarily trying to clear the path for his friend Senator John Kerry to become secretary of state.

I would be happy with either Kerry or Bill Richardson for that job, but my dream is still Richardson as transportation secretary.

Roll Call reports that former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, an early Obama backer, has accepted Obama's offer to run the Health and Human Services department. Daschle will also be the White House "health care czar," and I'm with Matt Stoller:

isn't it weird that cabinet appointments are basically subordinate to White House staff positions?  It's like, when did 'czar' become a laudable title?

Obama is said to have decided on Eric Holder for attorney general. Holder was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton but supported Obama during the Democratic primaries. He also helped lead Obama's vice-presidential search team. He is still being vetted, but if selected and confirmed, Holder would become the first black U.S. attorney general.

The Ethicurean gets real about who might become secretary of agriculture.

It's notable that no hero of Obama's progressive supporters seems to be in the running for any job. I admit that part of me is amused to watch heads explode among those who really believed Obama would bring transformational change. It's been clear for many months that there was little daylight between Hillary and Obama on policy. Some people bought into the Clinton demonization project a bit too much in the winter and spring.

On the other hand, Pat Buchanan's stopped clock is right about this: Obama should make at least one appointment that will please the "Daily Kos crowd," which did so much for Obama during the primaries. It would be ironic if "the change we need" turned out to be a bunch of former Clinton officials and centrist Congressional leaders, with a few Republicans mixed in.

This is an open thread for any thoughts or predictions about Obama's cabinet appointments.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein is excited by the news about Daschle:

This is huge news, and the clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health reform. You don't tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That's not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress. You tap him because he understands the parliamentary tricks and has a deep knowledge of the ideologies and incentives of the relevant players. You tap him because you understand that health care reform runs through the Senate. And he accepts because he has been assured that you mean to attempt health care reform.

UPDATE 2: CNN reports that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, an early Obama backer, will be named Homeland Security secretary. I want her to run against John McCain for Senate in 2010.

  • Cabinet stuff

    I'm so sick of the argument that because Obama is appointing ex-Clinton people and centrists that it's not change. If Obama wants to appoint anyone with any kind of governmental experience, they probably went through the Clinton administration at some point. It's the only game in town.

    And for the argument that appointing centrists isn't change--what would they have Obama do? Appoint a bunch of firebrand bloggers and die-hard activists? Do they forget that even though we have the majority, it would be nice to bring the other 40% along with us--instead of trying to gridlock everything we want to get through?

    In any case, it's important to remember that--for the most part--the cabinet merely serves as the conduit for the President's direction.

    Anyway, I'm 0-2 on my cabinet picks thus far. I thought Daschle was angling more for a west-wing position, and Holder blindsided me. For what it's worth, I don't get the Napolitano appointment to DHS at all. Wouldn't he want someone with some actual counter-terrorism experience?

    • Napolitano has law enforcement experience

      and governing experience. What I don't like about the pick is that we lose the governorship in AZ.

      I wouldn't argue for the whole government to be die-hard activists, but ragbrai08 is right to point out that about 20 percent of the public self-identifies as liberals (higher proportion among Obama voters). The cabinet shouldn't all be centrists.

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