There has been some leftward carping about President Obama’s pick of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, but it’s what was required, unless he wanted to play out his first one hundred days in office as another Jimmy Carter. (Carter had his ‘Georgia Mafia’ with him when he came to office and they had to learn the wicked ways of Washington. By the time they did, Carter was ending his first term.) Emanuel, for all of his manifold faults, is good at playing the ‘enforcer’ and knows Congress inside out he’ll use strong-arm tactics when necessary to push through legislation, and that’s just what Obama needs.
At any rate, here are some suggestions to fill out President Obama’s cabinet, although I’m not delusional enough to think most of them will become reality:
Attorney General: David Iglesias. He’s a Republican, but an honest man who refused to prosecute cases for political reasons, even after pressure from heavy-hitters like New Mexico’s Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson; that sort of integrity alone should qualify him for this job, but he’s also a good lawyer and his appointment would demonstrate a real change of direction for the tattered Justice Department. If not him, how about California prosecutor Carol Lam who was also one of the eight Republican federal attorneys fired for not toeing the line for Karl Rove? Short of that, John Dean is out there, tested, rested and able.
Secretary of State: Bill Richardson is the obvious choice, and on Obama’s short list, but he may not want to give up New Mexico’s governorship. How about a surprise pick Valerie Plame’s husband and former ambassador Joe Wilson?
Secretary of Defense: Reaching across the aisle, how about Colin Powell? Yep, we’ll have to forgive his despicable performance at the UN and some other unsavory acts he indulged in out of fealty to the Bush clan, but he does know, and is respected by, the military and he was, initially, against the Iraq debacle. Aside from that, it will reassure older brass that Obama can be trusted. If not Powell, ex-Gen. Wesley Clark is looking for work.
Secretary of the Treasury: Either Paul Krugman or Dean Baker since they are both economists who clearly foresaw the current fiscal meltdown, but that probably won’t happen. Clinton retread Robert Reich has been mentioned, and he wouldn’t be bad at all. Obama campaign economic advisor Austan Goolsbee also wouldn’t foul the nest. (Please, no more Paul Volcker’s or Robert Rubin’s.)
Secretary of Labor: Barbara Ehrenreich. (I know, I know, she won’t be asked and probably wouldn’t do it if she were, but she is more of an expert on the subject than the Inside-the-Beltway desk jockeys usually named to this post.)
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Eleanor Holmes Norton. The DC Delegate to Congress has spent most of her adult life working on these issues and she’d be a tireless advocate for the people, for a real change.
Secretary of Homeland Security: Richard Clarke. The former White House Counter-Terrorism chief who was ignored by the Bushites before 9/11 knows his business, he’s competent to do the job and he respects the Constitution.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Max Cleland is the obvious choice, in an upgraded department. He headed up the VA under Carter and intimately knows what vets returning from combat are going through he was once one himself.
Secretary of the Interior: John Edwards. Obama needs his progressive voice in the cabinet and Edwards needs a job.
Secretary of Agriculture: Who else but Jim Hightower? (Take that Karl Rove!) Hightower previously served in the Texas Department of Agriculture, so he has the experience, and he’s a true populist. No Mad Cow meat with Jim.
Secretary of Commerce: Ah, what the hell, give Warren Buffett something to do that’s not Treasury Secretary.
Director of National Intelligence: One of the two Tony’s Anthony Lake or Gen. Anthony Zinni.
CIA Director: Got to be Valerie Plame, and not just as a payback to the neocons who ruined her career she had an exemplary record with the Agency and considerable experience in the area of nuclear non-proliferation, an important issue in the future.
FBI Director: Colleen Rowley. She had the guts to tell the truth about the shoddy job the DC-based FBI in reading the warnings of the 9/11 attacks and she was an excellent agent. It’s time someone with intelligence and acuity had a chance to reform the Bureau.
EPA Director: Ralph Nader. Bring the Perennial Outsider into the tent and let him loose in an arena in which he has past experience.
And install Bill Clinton in a new post: Ambassador Extraordinaire to the Middle East. (Bill probably won’t do it the New York governor’s mansion beckons but he knows the players and he’s respected over there. He could start to bring peace to the region.)