The Obama Administration: Who Could Get Picked?
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Even before voting began, Washington was abuzz over what a Democratic White House might resemble.
In recent days an outline of an Obama administration has begun to emerge -- both in the rumor mill and in press reports. The campaign itself has specifically and repeatedly denied any efforts as such. But sources confirm that advisers to the Senator are already plotting out the staffing of key cabinet positions. And the picture presented is one of experience, talent and bipartisanship.
Chief of Staff
The key figure here is Rahm Emanuel, who is already rumored to be the front man for the job. The Associated Press has reported that the Obama transition team is making overtures to the Illinois congressman, reports which both sides have played down. People in the know, meanwhile, are saying the likelihood is Rahm will be offered the post and will likely say yes - he has experience in the White House, connections and respect on Capitol Hill, and the combative, competitive demeanor that might be an asset for the post.
If for some unforeseen reason Emanuel doesn't work out (sources say he's that much of a lock), the other names being bantered around are John Podesta, the current topper of the Center for American Progress and former chief of staff for Bill Clinton, and Tom Daschle, who has served as a key Obama adviser throughout the campaign and is formerly the Senate Majority Leader.
Janet Napolitano seems in line for this key-ranking position, which became a controversial post under the stewardship of Alberto Gonzales. The current Governor of Arizona is close with Obama, having endorsed his candidacy early on. And sources say that she wouldn't mind the move to D.C. What may end up deciding the appointment, however, is that Eric Holder - who served briefly as AG under Bill Clinton and headed Obama's vice presidential search committee - doesn't want to go through the rigors of a confirmation process and could take himself out of the running.
Secretary of State
This could be the big surprise. Sen. Dick Lugar, a Republican from Indiana may be, according to high-ranking Democrats, Obama's man for the job. The two have worked closely on several issues, none more so than securing loose nukes in former Soviet nations. But Democrats may not warm to the idea of an opposition party member getting an important foreign policy post (a complex to which liberals in particular are tired of being subjected). In light of that, Obama could consider -- and is rumored to be thinking about -- Sen. John Kerry, former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke, current foreign policy adviser Susan Rice and Greg Craig, another top Obama foreign policy adviser. Among cabinet positions, this seems to be one of the most wide open.
For, perhaps, this most important position, Obama has a slew of options. The individual that sources say is rising closest to the top is former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who has been a key endorser of the Obama candidacy in these tough economic times. At the same time, Obama could turn to Warren Buffet, though there is little indication that the Oracle of Omaha wants the job. Or he could look outside the box and tap Michael Bloomberg, though the New York City mayor is seeking a third term in office.
The consensus is emerging that, at least for the time being, Obama will keep current header Robert Gates in the cabinet. The job extension would provide the Illinois Democrat the cover he needs to reverse course in Iraq without risking charges of overt partisanship on the issue. Here too, however, there are a host of different names from which Obama can choose his own appointee. These include Republicans such as Sens. Chuck Hagel and Lugar, as well as Democrats like Sen. Jack Reed - a strong congressional voice on foreign policy - Holbrooke and Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and another key Obama endorser/adviser.
All of this, of course, is speculation. And the list above excludes a bevy of names that have been rumored to be in the running for respective positions. But, from conversations with Washington insiders and in-the-know Democrats, it seems clear that the process of dwindling down the long lists of potential cabinet members has already begun. And the names emerging represent the type of politics that Obama has preached: competent, non-rigid, and above partisanship.