Obama’s cabinet taking shape

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After nearly a month of wrangling and tough decisions, the Obama cabinet is taking shape – and looks remarkably like Bill Clinton’s of 1996 – 2000. Of course, there’s a big difference between having a Clinton-like cabinet and a Clinton in the White House, and how the President manages his cabinet is as important as the cabinet’s makeup. But the nature of Obama’s cabinet seems to point to something more of a change back than a change forward – making centrists sigh in relief and the far left cry foul. Furthermore, Clinton plans which didn’t succeed, like making abortion more readily available and implementing more socialized healthcare plans, might garner more support under Obama’s administration, especially with a heavily Democratic legislature. Here’s a quick overview of the administration as it stands:

Chief of Staff – Rahm Emanuel

This was perhaps Obama’s most liberal pick to date. The Illinois Representative from Governor Blagojevich’s former district was an Obama fundraiser and, like Obama, is closely aligned with the Chicago left. But it is important to remember that Emanuel, also, is a former Clinton supporter, and supported her early campaigning before the primaries, when he declared himself neutral, than switch his allegiance to Obama in June. He currently holds the office of Democratic Caucus Chairman, the fourth highest role in a Democratic Congress.

Secretary of State – Hillary Clinton

The former First Lady has vied with Obama as the most recognized Democrat in the world. With significant experience in many branches of politics, especially foreign diplomacy, Hillary is a choice that both appeases the Democratic base and, together with Joe Biden, solidifies Obama’s foreign policy stance as one largely in lockstep with Bill Clinton’s.

Secretary of the Treasury – Timothy Geithner
Geithner is a safe pick, succeeding Henry Paulson in the role of Secretary of the Treasury. He was a protégé of both the Treasury Secretaries of the Clinton administration.

Secretary of Defense – Robert Gates
Gates, arguably Obama’s most conservative choice, will be in an elite crowd to serve under two successive presidents of a different party – he already holds the position of Defense Secretary in the Bush Administration. The former CIA Director and originally a top pick for the Department of Homeland Security has been an open critic of NATO action in Afghanistan, but largely supportive of US forces and publicly very quiet in regard to Iraq. The pick of Gates has calmed worries in Japan and India that an Obama administration would be destructive to the close military alliances with those countries – both countries are long-time American allies and have daily concerns about aggression and terrorism, India because of its border with Pakistan and interior terrorism (including a recent outbreak of violence this past week which has claimed over 100 lives), and Japan because of its nearness to North Korea. Obama had originally supported more open talks with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il, a stance which disturbed some in the Asian scene.

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Secretary of Health and Human Services – Tom Daschle
This prominent Democrat served as Senate Majority Leader twice during the Clinton years. He was originally though highly of as a Chief of Staff until that position was given to Emanuel, thanks to his hard campaigning for Obama since very early on (December 2006). Daschle publicly stated that he did not want to be Vice President or Chief of Staff, and this, together with a book he published in February boldly titled “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis” made him the top selection for the Health and Human Services position. His longtime support of Bush’s foreign policy made him unpopular with the radical left, though this may be due partly to the terrorist anthrax attack on his office in 2001. But in issues such as the pro-abortion Freedom of Choice Act and the question of government-backed healthcare, he echoes Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton’s outspoken support.

Other Key Picks
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson seems a shoe-in now for Secretary of Commerce, but it’s a pity he could not have been placed to a more prominent role. The position of Commerce Secretary seems almost a snub after his staunch support of Obama from the early days of the primaries. But at least he’s in there somewhere. Latino Congressman Raul Grijalva (D – Ariz.) could be Obama’s other Latino pick to the administration. His name currently heads the list for the position of Interior Secretary, which manages a number of environmental issues. Grijalva is popular with environmentalists for his hard work on the border-area landscape and water management. “We need stricter standards,” he said once during a campaign speech this autumn. “In this, the Southwest will set the precedent for the nation.” We’ll see if that prediction rings true.
Source: Associated Press

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