Political Animal


October 19, 2012 12:11 PM Team Obama After November 6

By Ed Kilgore

There’s a vast article by George Condon up at the National Journal site today offering the first detailed handicapping I’ve seen about the staffing of a second Obama term if he wins on November 6. You can read the whole thing yourself, but the main thing that jumps out is a desire for as much continuity as possible based on confirmation fears and a desire to avoid unnecessary controversy. That’s already been obvious during the first term, particularly if you look at the disparity in stability between positions that do and don’t require Senate confirmation:

The president has had a fair amount of turbulence in his White House staff, including three chiefs of staff, two press secretaries, two legislative directors, and a shifting cast of senior advisers. But he has had a remarkably stable Cabinet. Only two of Obama’s 15 Cabinet posts have turned over—Defense and Commerce. And only two of his six Cabinet-level slots have seen turnover—budget director and head of the Council of Economic Advisers.

I recall when Richard Nixon made a big deal out of keeping his initial Cabinet together for one whole year, before its members began scattering to the seven winds (with a conspicuous exception being George Romney at HUD, who made it through the entire first term despite a tense relationship with Nixon). I don’t think we’ll see that level of turnover any time soon in the Obama administration, assuming it continues.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Yellow dog on October 20, 2012 3:12 AM:

    Romney was never on board with Nixon. Romney was so pro-civil rights that he was a big headache for Nixon, whose political strategy was to go-slow on the issue. Romney did not get the memo--or he put it in file 13. Nixon got rid of him as soon as he could.