Cabinet Speculation

By December 18, 2008Economy, General, Labor Unions

Gee, what’s left? USA Today has the list: “Other appointments still outstanding are secretary of Labor, top intelligence position and the office of U.S. Trade Representative, and Surgeon General.”

President-elect Obama is expected to announce one or two more and then leave for a week’s vacation in Hawaii. Next week would be the time to name somebody controversial, right in the middle of the Christmas news lull, especially if the President-elect is out of the way on Hawaii time. (Have a Honolulu news conference at 4 p.m. local time.)

Michigan Governor Granholm says no thanks to the Labor or any other post, reports the Detroit News. The New Republic reports the further speculation:

Rumors about who will be Obama’s labor secretary, one of the final Cabinet appointments, are appearing around the Web. Wall Street Journal reports that the top contenders seem to be Harley Shaiken, a Berkeley professor, and Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut congresswoman. The WSJ report says previous contenders Mary Beth Maxwell and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm are fading…

While not raising serious concerns among labor leaders, neither Shaiken nor DeLauro has the star power of some other Cabinet members Obama’s already selected. Shaiken is a labor scholar, with a focus on the U.S.-Mexico border and Latin America. A source and labor expert who knows David Bonior, the Obama adviser once considered a shoo-in for the secretary role, said today that Shaiken and Bonior are close friends. “When David was in Congress, Harley was very central to him,” the source said, adding that Shaiken has also done work for the Center for American Progress, the think tank from which several Obama administration officials have been pulled. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he does have an inside track.” But, while Shaiken knows labor issues through and through, some union leaders might be skeptical of his appointment because he’s from the Ivory Tower. “Academics, no matter how supportive they’ve been [of labor issues], always cause a certain queasiness in labor quarters,” the source said.

In representing a New Haven-based congressional district, Rep. DeLauro is certainly familiar with manufacturing. Her NAM Key Voting percentage in the 110th Congress was 20 percent, but otherwise she consistently falls below 10 percent over her time in office.

To restate the operating philosophy around here toward Cabinet appointments: He’s the President, he won the election, barring something really untoward or unforeseen, he gets to name whom he wants.

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