Sunday, November 16, 2008

Idle cabinet musings ...

Okay, so I've succumbed to the pundits' parlor games re: Obama's cabinet appointments.

Peter, I'll eat my hat if Larry Summers gets Treasury. As you said, not only has Summers dated Laura Ingraham, a woman of no substance (which goes to his judgment), but he's made a lot of enemies with women of substance (which also goes to his judgment). I just can't see a President Obama tolerating this guy's intemperate mouth distracting from the gargantuan economic crisis the country faces.

Besides, Joe Biden already straddles the big mouth territory in Obama's nascent cabinet.

My hunch is New Jersey governor John Corzine owns the inside track on Treasury. Not only does he have financial services credentials (I know, Paulson was head of Goldman Sachs too), but he brings the added dimension of public service, in the Senate and as governor. He's highly respected as someone who can work across both sectors, with unions and management, and who cares for and understands the plight of the middle class and the underclass. He's the perfect candidate if Obama wants to stress the problems of "Main Street" vs. Wall Street. Tim Geithner, a Summers protege, is a good candidate for undersecretary. And to round off Obama's economic team, grey eminence Paul Volcker is a solid and logical choice to chair the President's Council of Economic Advisors.

State is Hillary's if she wants it. The problem is vetting Bill's foreign financial contributors to his foundation, and possible conflicts of interest.

Robert Gates would be an astute choice to remain at Defense as a Republican holdover to preside over Obama's gradual drawdown of troops from Iraq. Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn is also a possibility for the post.


jimbow8 said...

I'm kinda hoping that Obama might nominate an actual economist to the Treasury department rather than a politician.

And as for Hillary, I think she fits in other places much better than Sec of State: first, Senate leadership (possibly replacing Reid), and eventually Supreme Court (would that annoy the radical right?). And I still prefer Richardson for Sec of State.

Carlos said...

Jon Corzine has an MBA from the U of Chicago, and he's the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, the same post that Hank Paulson, current Treasury Sec., occupied. Corzine was with Goldman Sachs from 75 to 98, and before that he worked in banking and finance, where he's been for most of his career -- 28+ years in business and finance vs. 8 years in politics.

So, he's well qualified. The fact that he's a politician now is actually a plus. He was a spokesman for the Obama campaign on economic issues, I think, because he communicates economic policy in ways the average person can understand. With Treasury gaining increased visibility among Americans, an economist who lives in the rarefied world of high finance and macroeconomics may not be the best person to relate to ordinary folks on Main Street, and how the economic crisis has impacted them. Still, crackerjack economists are always prime candidates for Secretary or Undersecretary.

Interestingly, Corzine was born and grew up in Illinois, which can't hurt his chances.

I've read that one reason Hillary is seriously considering State (it's hers if she wants it) is that she doesn't have the seniority in the Senate to be effective on her issues in committee, whether they be health care, foreign policy, or judiciary. And Harry Reid has no intention of stepping aside, which could lead to a messy fight for the leadership.

State is the plum assignment in the Obama cabinet, especially with an administration that intends to be multilateral and restore America's standing in the world. Hillary, would be a great fit, with her star power and her connections and popularity around the world. Plus, if it doesn't work out she can always be on the short list for the next SCOTUS vacancy.