Everyone likes to add his or her two cents to the public discussion of new cabinet officers, now that the election is 'in the books'. And we do too!
First, at Treasury, and going out on a limb, we concur with those who prefer Nobel prize-winning Paul Krugman whose writings, thinking and courage have both inspired and provoked for many years. If Obama is truly seeking a legacy of which he can be proud, and there is very little daylight between the kinds of policies he has been advocating since 2005 when he wrote "The Audacity of Hope" and what he has pushed for in the recent campaign, then Krugman is his man.
Not only will the U.S. chart a course that would represent a significant departure from the austerity being practiced in Europe, but within its own borders, people would know that investment, infrastructure, research, education, health care and jobs would take precedence over austerity, as they should. And having an articulate advocate in Treasury would also send a signal to Wall Street that they have to play by reasonable and responsible rules and regulations.
In searching for a replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he has to look no further than to the Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, whose accurate representation of the latest information that was available when she spoke on the Sunday talk shows, immediately following the Benghazi debacle, must not be permitted to disqualify her from the Secretary of State post she has both earned and would fill energetically, professionally and even creatively. To fail to submit her name would serve only to pander to Republican whiners whose capacity to destroy is far more evolved than their capacity and willingness to create solutions.
And for Secretary of Defense, there are two names, both Republican and both qualified, although for different reasons. Chuck Hagel, former Senator, has a record of being both reasonable and effective. Colin Powell is the number one statesman in the U.S. having served presidents from both parties is various capacities. Should Hagel be chosen for Defence, then perhaps Powell could enhance the initiatives already begun by current Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki, in the provision of support, treatment and re-integration of veterans from two very unnecessary and tragic wars.
Sometimes, avoiding unnecessary steps backward is as important as making forward progress. And not naming John Kerry to the cabinet might make political sense, not specifically because he does not quality, but because Massachusetts would then have to hold a replacement election at some point, and Scott Brown would reduce the Democratic majority in the Senate, should he win. On the other hand, if Governor Duval Patrick were to name himself to the vacant seat, at the time of a Kerry appointment, as the White House seems determined to do, perhaps some time could be 'bought' before Patrick would have to face a full-scale election against Brown, making it more of a level playing field.
Kerry is, however, not someone who fits easily or comfortably into an Obama administration, notwithstanding his important contribution to the debate preparation of the president in the recent campaign. He might serve in a specific capacity outside the cabinet, replacing the former Senator George Mitchell, as envoy to the Middle East peace process, thereby focusing his attention, along with that of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on a festering open wound, in the hope of resolving the age-old conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. Showing his mettle and resolve in negotiating that conflict to something resembling a lasting peace would provide the former presidential candidate with a legitimate, and lasting legacy.
Just some random thoughts from an illegitimate observer north of the 49th parallel.