Category Archives: U.S. Cabinet Secretaries

All The President’s Men

It is conventional wisdom that President Obama’s cabinet will be drastically different looking after January 20, 2013. Let’s look at the changes and how it will affect the current political map:

  • Treasury: Geithner is gone as soon as sequestrian is over. This has been known and in the works for some time. It will be the toughest cabinet secretary position in Obama’s second term. Possible replacements: Jack Lew, current Obama Chief of Staff or a CEO (Honeywell, Google, BlackRock….); Erskine Bowles is a darkhorse
  • Commerce: Bryston has been acting-Secretary for a while now and a definite replacement has been in the works. Possible replacements: any of the CEOs who don’t get Treasury Secretary; Ron Kirk, US Trade Rep and former Dallas mayor; Fred Hochberg, current Ex-Im Bank President
  • State: This is the big one, with Secretary Clinton all but ready to leave and start up her 2016 Presidential bid. Possible replacements; Susan Rice, UN Ambassador; John Kerry, U.S. Senator; NSA Tom Donilon. If Kerry, could open up a Senate comeback for defeated Scott Brown in a special election
  • NSA: Only open if Donilon moves up, which is unlikely.
  • Chief of Staff: if Jack Lew goes to Treasury Secretary. Possible replacements: Ron Klain, former Biden COS; former Majority Leader Tom Daschle
  • Defense: Panetta will leave after sequestrian is over. Possible replacements: Ash Carter, current Deputy Secretary of Defense; Michelle Flourney, who would be the first female SecDef; Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy; darkhorses include General Petraeus, soon-to-be former Virginia Senator Webb, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Rhode Island (RI has an independent/former Republican as governor who could appoint a Republican to the open seat), and maybe even former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who would lend bipartisan appeal as a Republican
  • Attorney General: embattled Holden will be on his way out. Possible replacements: U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island (same problem as Jack Reed, could be replaced with a Republican); current Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm; current DHS Secretary Napolitano, who is both interested in SCOTUS and the Arizona senate seat in 2016
  • Homeland Security: if it opens, possible replacements: Merrick Garland, D.C. Court of Appeals Judge
  • Health and Human Services: does not appear to be a change coming
  • Labor: does not appear to be a change coming
  • Education: does not appear to be a change coming, however, if Duncan left, former DC Schools Chief Michelle Rhee or current Delaware Governor Jack Markell
  • HUD: does not appear to be a change coming
  • Agriculture: does not appear to be change coming; Tom Vilsack’s wife lost her Congressional bid on Tuesday
  • Interior: Salazar has indicated he will be moving on to the private sector. Possible replacements: former ND Senator Byron Dorgan; former Wyoming Governor Dave Fruedenthal; soon-to-be former Washington Governor Christie Gregoire (there’s a desire for the next Interior Secretary to be a Westerner)
  • Energy: Chu is on his way out after the Solyndra scandal. Possible replacements: Cathy Zoi, who worked with Al Gore on climate change; Kathleen McGuinty, Clinton-era chair of Council on Environmental Quality; could also go to a green energy CEO
  • EPA: Lisa Jackson is heading out, either to New Jersey or New Orleans for a political future; Possible replacements: former Clinton aides

There’s discussion of whether Obama will bring in any number of Republicans for Cabinet positions to burnish his bipartisan credentials in his second term. Possible names (including above): Chuck Hagel, Dick Lugar, Mitt Romney (Secretary of Business or Commerce??)

First Presidential Debate = BINGO!

Get your checklist out for tonight. The first presidential debate will take place tonight, in Colorado, and as usual, we can play BINGO with buzzwords:

big government




Supreme Court


debt ceiling

fiscal cliff


energy independencd

Social Security




middle class

(insert foreign country)

(Insert foreign leader)

leading from behind

Wall Street

(insert random US cabinet department)

fiscal cliff



Obamacare/Affordable Care Act/Romneycare

99% and/or 47%

“you didn’t build that”

bin Laden

Fast and Furious

(insert swing state)

I would be shocked – hell, I might drop dead – if 90% of those don’t show up tonight.

A Look at the Inside Track


Politico outlines some possible names for a Romney Cabinet.

  • The qualification that is uppermost in his mind is private-sector experience: “My focus is going to be on the economy, getting us strong again. So having people who have actually run things in the private sector or have been actively involved in the private sector will be of real interest to me.”
  • Romney also said he would empower his Cabinet more than Obama has. “I do not look to bring someone in to run an agency and say, ‘Hey, go do a good job, and let me know how it goes.’ I look, instead, to come in and say, ‘Here is what I want to have done. These are the things I believe need to be done in this agency, and I’m the guy that got elected, not you. So, it is my goals, not your goals, that are first and foremost.”
  • Romney said he expects that his Cabinet will have “a representative form of diversity that mirrors our society at large,” including women, African-Americans and Hispanics.

So let’s look at a few names:

  • Former Utah Governor and Bush EPA chief Mike Leavitt for Chief of Staff
  • PR Governor Luis Fortuño as possible Interior or Commerce
  • OH Senator Rob Portman for Treasury
  • Former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty for Education
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for Health and Human Services
  • VA Governor Bob McDonnell or former PA Governor Ed Rendell (D)
  • Former MO Senator Jim Talent for Secretary of Defense
  • Former CT Senator Joseph Lieberman (D/I) as Secretary of State

All of this is speculation, of course.


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