Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Question for Liberals

Obama's cabinet: who are the winners so far? Losers? Who do you hope will move up to a bigger job? Who do you hope will disappear and never be heard from again? Biggest disappointment? Biggest (positive) surprise?

Feel free to talk about people not technically part of the cabinet, but I'm especially interested here in the executive branch agencies and departments; we've heard a lot more about the White House staff, and at any rate the White House has, to a large extent, turned over, while the executive branch has been far more stable.


  1. Weirdly, I'm going to pick a Republican. Ray LaHood has really done a very good job as transportation secretary, focusing on road safety and high-speed rail rather than just mindlessly building more roads.

  2. Shaun Donovan is a surprisingly great speaker and he's also a huge policy wonk. He actually reminds me a lot of the President. I wouldn't be surprised to see him emerge in some political field in the future. He's only 45, after all.

  3. I'd like Geithner to sink beneath the waves and be replaced by a member of the SF Fed, or at least someone who's not so much Wall Street's bitch.

    Holder seems fine, given the Obama Administration's determination to handle torture and other Bush Era crimes, but is also doing a good job (as far as I can tell) rebuilding Justice.

    I'd love to replace Salazar and Vilsack. Both are not quite right for their departments, at least in the sense of my policy preferences (Salazar for national resources policy and overall reconstruction of the department after the coke whore orgy, Vilsack for ethanol and farm subsidies). That said, I'm not sure who their replacements should be, given that I'm more inclined to pick cabinet members with experience managing a bureaucracy than those that have ideological eye candy/sex appeal (this is why I'd never make Krugman Treasury Secretary).

    Gary Locke, Hilda Solis, Ron Kirk, all seem fine, and long-term, I'd love the California Senate delegation to be Solis and Becerra, during the Harris Presidency...

    I feel like Sebelius could have moved on to bigger and better things, but I'm not sure how one capitalizes on being HHS Secretary. She'd not be a bad VP at some future date if the top of the ticket is relatively green. Doubt she could capture Inhofe's seat, though.

    LaHood, Chu, Shinseki all seem to be exceeding expectations, but none of those portfolios has really gone anywhere historically, so I'm not sure what their next steps should/could be. LaHood's almost certainly a pariah for crossing party lines, Chu's a scientist, and Shinseki had been in retirement before this, so I don't know what each could springboard to.

  4. Aneesh Chopra. Clearly only something as stupid as "Win the future" can come from former consultants.

  5. Gates, Napolitano and Clinton have been really, really extraordinary.

    Salazar seems a disappointment. The others seem OK to good, but it's hard to know from the outside - what looks middling from here may really entail Herculean efforts (thinking in particular of the stables).

  6. I'd say Gates has been the most effective, but I've been very impressed by Chu and hope we see a lot more of him in the future. The Republicans' love of Duncan gives me pause, but I don't follow him closesly so I'm not sure if it should. Napolitano is occasionally poor on tv, but I think the biggest failure is Salazar.

    I have basically positive feelings toward Solis, Jackson, and Rice, and hope to see more good things from them in the future - but they are so (relatively) low profile it's a little hard to say.

  7. @McDevite:

    What good things have you heard about Shinseki? I'm not disputing your assertion, it's just that I haven't heard much at all about him, good or ill. Seems like he's been operating under the radar which can of course be an effective M.O., especially given the insanity of the media spotlight these days.

  8. Agree with Gates, Clinton, and Shinseki.

    I have some qualms about Napolitano; particularly the whole body-scan thing and several of the continued privacy invasions rooted in concerns of homeland security.

    Somehow, I feel Sabelius has been tainted by ACR, and that makes me very sad, for I think her political future damaged. And Geithner tainted by the perceived corruption of finance; but we already knew that, didn't we?

  9. Napolitano is disappointing first because she's drunk the TSA kool-aid instead of imposing sensible airport security measures and second because, when asked to join the cabinet, she did not say, I'm sorry, Mr. President-elect, but if I accept I will leave Arizona in the hands of a crazy person.

  10. Response to Kal: What a remarkably accurate assessment. I am Shaun Donovan's mother, and the family agrees he has a lot in common with the President except that politics is not his interest. Martha

  11. Clinton and Gates are winners, and Gates was a surprise.
    Geithner is a loser.
    I vote for Duncan, Jackson, and Goolsbee to move up.
    I haven't seen the evidence for Chu's effectiveness.

    Jackson has improved the EPA on greenhouse gases and other topics, despite underfunding. I'd like to see her get a bigger portfolio.

  12. I'd have to know a lot more inside stuff about the bureaucracy to really evaluate people. But goddammit, Steven Chu is awesome.

    Plus I'd love to see more scientists in politics.


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