Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 3, 2008

RICHARDSON JOINS CABINET, OTHERS RUMORED.... As expected, Barack Obama introduced Bill Richardson as his choice for Secretary of Commerce at an event in Chicago this morning. Obama, who ran against the New Mexico governor for the Democratic nomination, cited Richarson's "breadth and depth of experience in public life," making him "uniquely suited" to serve as the "economic diplomat for America."

As Tim Fernholz noted about Richardson, "For a man who once broke the world record for number of hands shook in eight hours, it seems like he's now gunning for number of cabinet posts held in one lifetime." (For those keeping score at home, this will be Richardson's third cabinet spot, after having served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary.)

During the Q&A, a reporter -- I believe it was Telemundo's Vicente Serrano -- noted that some in the Latino community hoped that Richardson would be Secretary of State, and asked whether this was a "consolation prize." Obama responded by explaining the significance of the Secretary of Commerce, and added that his cabinet, which is only half full, will emphasize diversity.

"When people look back and see the entire slate, what they will say not only in terms of my cabinet, but in terms of my White House staff, I think people are going to say this is one of the most diverse cabinets and White House staffs of all time. But more importantly I think they're going to say these are all people of outstanding qualifications and excellence," he said. "There's no contradiction between diversity and excellence."

Also during the Q&A, Obama took a question from Fox News' Wendell Goler, who asked about the Treasury's use of TARP funds. This was mainly notable because no one from Fox News had been called on during Obama's four five previous press conferences.

In other cabinet news:

* Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) is rumored to be a leading candidate for the position of U.S. Trade Representative.

* Former ambassador Richard Holbrooke, best known as the broker of the Dayton accords, is reportedly being eyed for a major diplomatic role in South Asia.

* Mary Beth Maxwell, founding executive director of American Rights at Work, is reportedly being considered for Labor Secretary.

* And Pennsylvania Judge Nelson Diaz is apparently on the short list to serve as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (10)

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Bill Richardson's still one Cabinet appointment behind Elliot Richardson, who held four cabinet positions under Nixon and Ford: Commerce, HEW, Defense, and (the one for which he's best known) Attorney General at the time of the Saturday Night Massacre.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 3, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

related fake news


In a joint action, the nation's television networks sent a letter of complaint to the Obama transition team regarding the incessant barrage of news conferences now taking place. The letter conceded that President-elect Obama needed to speak out about the current economic crisis and to announce major appointments. However, they saw no need to have a news conference every time a new White House adviser is appointed.

The letter expressed the hope that there would not be a news conference to announce that Defense Secretary Gates will stay on for another year. Also, the letter noted, since the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has been going on for over two weeks, therewould really be no need to hold a news conference to introduce her to the American public.

Of particular concern is the practice of holding these daily conferences in Chicago rather than in the news capitols of Washington or New York. In a separate statement, NBC news director Roger Isles said that, in these times of belt tightening, the burden of travel to Chicago was overwhelming. Already, he noted, Andrea Mitchell was complaining bitterly about having to fly in coach and stay in cheap hotels.

homer www.altara.blogspot.com

Posted by: altara on December 3, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Also George Schultz, who was Nixon's budget director (which is now Cabinet level though it was not then), Labor and Treasury Secretary before becoming Reagan's Secretary of State.

Regarding Becerra, I can't be enthusiastic about sending a politician to do the USTR job, one of the more technically demanding in the Cabinet -- apart from which, Becerra appears to have a record of being anti-trade except when a pro-trade position coincides with the position of well-represented corporate interests. This is one position where recycling a Clinton-era official, Charlene Barshefsky, would be a better decision on Obama's part.

Posted by: Zathras on December 3, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This may be playing well nationally (and you know what they're like) but it's not so populist around here. When vermin like Michael Gerson are able to crow in the WaPo that Obama's appointments are one or more in the face of the "ideologues," you know who to blame: Gerson himself of course, but Obama for giving him the ammunition.

Where are John Edwards, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich and Jim Hightower, to name a few off the top of the list? Krugman's good enough to win a Nobel in Economics, but not to oversee our financial digout? So far Richardson's the only one I've even heard of. What a waste, spending all that time campaigning against Clinton and the DLC in the primaries, only to find they've won after all. I knew Obama was no populist, but so far these appointments are just a sop to business, not the grassroots change we need to keep from going under. A Democratic government that hews to the right may find its base going further left, and that won't be good for anybody but the Republicans.

Posted by: ericfree on December 3, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK
Where are John Edwards, Paul Krugman,

Krugman has repeatedly said that he didn't want a job.

So-called pundits ought to do a little reading themselves before making themselves look foolish.

Posted by: gwangung on December 3, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's a consolation prize. I wonder how hard Richardson is kicking himself in the ass for not running for Domenici's Senate seat?

Notice what's STILL missing?

Interior and EPA.

Guess environmentalism is way down the list of the green-talking, but coal-and-ethanol-loving, Prez-elect.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 3, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Holbrooke was a drum-beater for war with Iraq, playing the WMD card. He has been a drum-beater for war with Iran, only reluctantly agreeing that at the present time, with two wars going on, it wouldn't be useful. He is evil.

Posted by: bob on December 3, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Krugman has repeatedly said that he didn't want a job." Few people turn down a presidential appointment. It's called patriotism, a quality it's foolish, or worse (I vote worse) to discount.

Posted by: ericfree on December 3, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

"There's no contradiction between diversity and excellence."

That's a pretty funny thing to say when introducing Bill Richardson as a Cabinet secretary.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on December 3, 2008 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't Obama really name some old white man to the post of HUD Secretary. That post is typically the one past Presidents have nominated their "token minority". Now the tables are turned its time for a different type of token appointment.......agree?

Posted by: lib4 on December 3, 2008 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK



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