There’s more than a single strategy that President Elect Obama could employ in selecting members for his cabinet. He could use a technocrat strategy in which experts, highly trained and experienced, would fill each post.
He could employ a line of least resistance strategy, appointing those most likely to be confirmed by the Senate. Such a strategy would very likely be heavy with fellow Senators.
He could employ a political strategy, his appointments being targeted at ensuring his reelection in 2012.
Or he could use some combination of strategies.
The suggestion of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State would seem to be an example of the political strategy. I see little in Sen. Clinton’s background or history that suggests that she is suited by training, experience, or temperament to be a diplomat. Nor is she a skilled administrator. The environment of the senate is generally not one that cultivates team players, especially when you started at the top as Sen. Clinton did.
However, the move would probably be popular with Sen. Clinton’s supporters and probably politically astute on a keep your friends close level.
The cabinet appointments for the new administration will certainly provide interesting fodder for divining relative priorities.