Thursday, November 06, 2008

Some Things To Ponder

There are many who are grousing about some of the names bandied about for the top cabinet positions - Larry Summers at Treasury, keeping Robert Gates at Defense - and in these two cases I happen to agree. I would add that using Robert Reich as part of one's Treasury transition team is a terrible idea. He was an awful Labor Secretary, self-promoting and preening, and when he was dumped by Clinton for many good reasons, he got even by writing a tell-all that should have put an "X" by his name for good.

First, I like the idea of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff. For one thing, it tells me that Obama does not want a bunch of "yes" men, loyal Obamanians . . . Obamies . . . anyway, he values a variety of positions and different types of people over loyalty to himself and his ideas. He is also signaling Congress that they better get their act together and work with the incoming Administration. Also, it gets Emmanuel out of the House, where he is a force for a certain status quo that is no longer tenable.

I like less the idea of mining the Senate for Cabinet officials. Keep them where they are, especially those seats recently won, like Kerry in MA, who has been touted as a possible Secretary of State. There are good people out there to fill these positions who don't hold office already.

As far as the whole Summers at Treasury thing goes, there are many reasons why this is just a bad idea. Ditto Robert Rubin. While it is inevitable that a few Clinton retreads will get the nod, they should be for lower-level cabinet positions, and sub-cabinet offices. Summers is bad, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned Krugman's name in this context. I doubt he would take the job - his position on NAFTA makes him a bit outside the lefty mainstream; plus he's got a good double gig at the Times and Princeton - but even a nod in his direction would give many liberals good feelings.

As for Gates - bye-bye. There are many solid Democrats who would make great Secretaries of Defense, like Wes Clark. While there may be bad blood between Obama and Clark (although I don't really know why), I do not think that should preclude an offer. It is time a Democrat offered the job to another Democrat. Give the Republicans HUD, say, or Transportation.

Virtual Tin Cup

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