INSIDE OBAMA'S CABINET: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

obama cabinet

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Now that the President has announced he will seek re-election, we thought it would be a good time to look at his Cabinet and see who might continue to serve in a second Obama Administration (assuming he wins, obviously) and who might be sent packing.  When he was first elected, there was a great deal of press chatter about the “Team of Rivals” Obama was assembling to serve in his Cabinet.  Dorothy Kearns Goodwin wrote a book about how President Abraham Lincoln had done this and the Obama campaign inexplicably seized up the analogy. The joke at the time, alluding to Obama’s ego, was that Obama viewed the presidential analogy as exact.

In the event, of course, President Obama talked Senator Hillary Clinton into being his Secretary of State, where she has unhappily worked ever since.  The rest of the Cabinet contains no rivals or anyone who might even be considered a future rival.

But never mind that.  That is so….2008.

Joe Biden, Vice President.

Upside: Enjoys the President's trust.

Downside: No edit function.

White House Clout: Higher than you would think.

Longevity Factor: Likely to stay on the ticket.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State.

Upside: 18 million votes. Powerful network.

Downside: Hard to hide she thinks she's sitting in the wrong chair.

White House Clout: Tolerated.

Longevity Factor: Leaving at the end of 2012, maybe sooner.

Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary.

Upside: Has the President's full confidence.

Downside: Lacks everyone else's.

White House Clout: High.

Longevity Factor: Very good.

Robert Gates, Secretary of defence.

Upside: Best defence Secretary in ages.

Downside: Leaving soon.

White House Clout: Big, not huge (see Libya).

Longevity Factor: Leaving soon.

Eric Holder Jr., Attorney General.

Upside: Hard to say.

Downside: Non-existent political instincts.

White House Clout: Amazingly, strong.

Longevity Factor: Safe but shouldn't be.

Kenneth Salazar, Secretary of the Interior.

Upside: Well-liked in the Rocky Mountain states.

Downside: Bad manager.

White House Clout: Minor.

Longevity Factor: Good through Obama's re-election.

Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture.

Upside: Accomplished politician, riding high in farm states with high crop prices.

Downside: 40% of corn for ethanol? Done nothing about the Ag Department blob (bureaucracy.)

White House Clout: So-so.

Longevity Factor: Good. Easier to keep him than try to find someone else.

Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce.

Upside: None.

Downside: Not good at his job.

White House Clout: Good enough to get him the US Ambassador to China job.

Longevity Factor: On his way to Beijing. Expected Replacement: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Hilda Solis, Secretary of labour.

Upside: Unknown.

Downside: labour knows she has no juice.

White House Clout: Don't call us, we'll call you.

Longevity: No one cares.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Upside: Articulate former governor, well-liked by former colleagues.

Downside: Lost credibility in debate over cost of Obamacare.

White House Clout: So-so.

Longevity Factor: Good through the re-election campaign.

Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Upside: Hard-working, smart.

Downside: HUD itself, housing crisis, collapse of Fannie Mae, budget deficit, et al.

White House Clout: Don't ever call us. We'll never call you back.

Longevity factor: Probably good through the re-election campaign.

Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation.

Upside: Everyone likes him.

Downside: Everyone wonders how he got the job.

White House Clout: None to speak of.

Longevity Factor: Good through the re-election campaign.

Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy.

Upside: Smart, savvy, knowledgeable.

Downside: Alternative energy is long-term. Energy crisis is short-term.

White House Clout: Solid.

Longevity Factor: Solid.

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.

Upside: Smart, dynamic, innovative.

Downside: Weighed down by teachers' unions.

White House Clout: Solid.

Longevity Factor: Solid.

Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Upside: Well-regarded by the military.

Downside: Lack of management innovation.

White House Clout: Not much.

Longevity Factor: Solid.

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security.

Upside: Former Arizona governor, well-liked inside liberal Beltway circles (beloved by the late David Broder).

Downside: Incoherent immigration policy, weak enforcement record, perceived as weak on drug cartels.

White House Clout: Less after she didn't take one for the team and run for Arizona's open U.S. Senate seat.

Longevity Factor: Probably stays through the re-election campaign.

Bill Daley, White House Interim Chief of Staff.

Upside: Golden name, golden network.

Downside: Fixer. Liberal distrust.

White House Clout: Good and getting better.

Longevity Factor: Goner after the re-election campaign is over.

Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.

Upside: Not Carol Browner.

Downside: No juice.

White House Clout: None.

Longevity Factor: Goner after the re-election campaign.

Jacob Lew, Office of Management & Budget Director.

Upside: Smart, capable, knows the issues cold.

Downside: The President is not interested in fiscal issues for the moment.

White House Clout: Fair.

Longevity Factor: Good through the re-election campaign.

Ronald Kirk, United States Trade Representative Ambassador.

Upside: Everyone likes Ron Kirk.

Downside: Not a great negotiator.

White House Clout: Fair.

Longevity Factor: Good through the re-election campaign.

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Upside: Nothing leaps to mind.

Downside: Occasional loose cannon, not smart.

White House Clout: Surprisingly emerged as a 'winner' in the decision to invade Libya, a decision that is quickly becoming a 'loser.'

Longevity Factor: Good through the re-election.

Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.

Upside: Smart, rigorous thinker. Clever and funny.

Downside: President disinterested in entitlement reform.

White House Clout: Likely to grow.

Longevity Factor: Good through re-election campaign.

But could they all be out of a job next year?

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