Obama's cabinet takes shape
With one possible exception so far, Barack Obama's cabinet choices seem to be mainstream liberal Democrats whose idea of "change" is reverting to LJB's Great Society -- 40 years after it was trendy.
Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?? It's not official yet, but if she is in fact the one, then Look out, World! Although she met quite a few foreign leaders while on official state visits along with her husband, she is not known for being diplomatic or tactful. (Quite the contrary.) Perhaps her most newsworthy overseas trips as First Lady was at a conference on women's rights held in Buenos Aires in October, 1997, at which she promoted widespread distribution of contraception. If she is chosen to run Foggy Bottom, it will make three of the last four secretaries of state who were women. (What about white males???)
Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary! News of that choice sent the deeply depressed stock market into a brief spurt of euphoria yesterday. Geithner is a Democrat, but the way things are now, anyone with decent business or financial credentials would probably allay Wall Street fears of a rapid transition to a socialist economy. According to the Washington Post, his mentor is Larry Summers, the intellectual who served as Treasury Secretary late in Bill Clinton's administration. That article also reports, "Like Paulson, Geithner believes that the Treasury should be given vast powers to develop experimental strategies for responding to the crisis and the flexibility to abandon them if they don't work." Trial-and-error government -- yikes.
Eric Holder as Attorney General! He has lengthy experience in the Justice Department, and is well regarded by people in both parties. His main drawback is failing to properly screen the crooks (such as Marc Rich) who were pardoned by outgoing President Clinton in January 2001.
Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security? Her only known qualification is being governor of a state that borders Mexico. (That would be Arizona.) Nevertheless, she is a relative moderate and will probably get confirmed without much hassle.
Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services? Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a confidant of President-elect Barack Obama, will be nominated to that post, which is usually second-rate. At first glance, it seems a curious choice, because as the Washington Post notes, Daschle "until recently was not known as an expert on health policy." Aside from being one of Obama's early backers and advisors, his main qualification is being a consummate Washington Establishment insider and power-broker, knowing all the right levers to pull. With him in charge of the HHS bureaucracy, there is a very real chance that socialized medical care actually will come about during the next four years. It's exactly what the ailing Ted Kennedy has been yearning for his entire political life...
ANECDOTE: I had a lengthy conversation with Daschle way back in August 1978, when he was making his very first campaign for the House of Representatives in South Dakota. We were sitting in adjacent seats on a flight to Washington, where I was about to start work in the government. Even then, I could tell he was a far more shrewd and calculating politician than one might guess from his plain-spoken, mild-mannered demeanor.
Only two states provide for apportioning electoral votes according to congressional district: Maine and Nebraska. This year, it was just confirmed, Nebraska did in fact "split" for the first time, as Obama won in the second district, thereby getting one of the state's five electoral votes. That district includes the city of Omaha and its suburbs, which means that Obama won Omaha! See Sioux City Journal, which notes, "Not since 1964 has the state awarded an electoral vote to a Democrat." Just like Virginia! Now that Missouri (with 11 electoral votes) has been officially called for John McCain, that means that Obama won a total of 365 electoral votes, while McCain won just 173.