Strategies for Selecting a Cabinet

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.

6 comments… add one
  • I’d be encouraged if I saw a combination. It would speak to me of pragmatism. If ever there was a time for pragmatism this may be it.

  • I’d be happy with a combination approach too, michael. I’m not sure which concerns me more: all technocrats or all political.

  • Elinor Bowles Link

    Hillary Clinton as SoS would be a disaster for the U.S. and President Obama. As this blog so accurately points out, there is nothing in her background or temperament to suit her for this position and having her and Bill in such a prominent international role would undermine Obama’s stature as president. Despite Billary’s strong campaign for B.O., you would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to be clear that Billary still harbors resentment.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I can’t imagine she would want it. The Sec. State position ain’t the political powerhouse it once was. I sense we’re being fed a “Team of Rivals” storyline for consumption.

    And keep your enemies near? More like, keep your enemies on red-eye planes to Talbukistan.

  • Brett Link

    Bill Clinton would probably be a better choice for Secretary of State, if you could control him (it would be another precedent, as well – I don’t think there’s ever been a situation where a former President served in the Cabinet of a current President). He was heavily involved in the Camp David Accords (and Israel-Palestine will probably force itself into Obama’s foreign policy agenda at some point), not to mention other forms of diplomacy.

  • tom p Link

    “I can’t imagine she would want it. The Sec. State position ain’t the political powerhouse it once was. I sense we’re being fed a “Team of Rivals” storyline for consumption.”

    Agreed PD. Personally I see Bill Richardson as the odds on favorite for SoS.

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