advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about economics, politics, and more... 

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On A New Cabinet, Or, Fantasy Politics

Fantasy football is pretty popular these days.

I don’t play it myself, but the idea of choosing a team based on my own idea of experience, potential, compatibility, and balance, and then finding out that the team I chose was the best combination of players possible-hey, that’s pretty cool.

So I thought, let’s play a game here.

Here are the rules:

A Democratic candidate, presumably one of the "big 3" currently handicapped to win, has been elected.

You are an advisor to the transition committee.

You have been assigned the responsibility of recommending cabinet appointments.You may assume a particular candidate has been elected, or you may choose a generic list. The more complete the list, the better; but if you have no idea who would make the best Postmaster General, I understand. If the only choice you are sure of is Postmaster General, that’s good, too. No one else is, so you’ll be the voice of expertise, for all we know.

You may wish to suggest a Vice President for the cndidates.
As Mr. Burns would say: "Excellent..."

You may add a preferred Supreme Court nominee or two if you wish.

To get things started, I have a few suggestions of my own.

White House Chief of Staff-An ideal candidate for the job has the temperament to be the gatekeeper for the President, and can to be trusted both inside and outside the Oval Office. Tom Vilsak seems like a guy that could fit the bill. This is the past previous leader of the Democratic Leadership Council, which means he pretty much knows everybody, and lots of folks owe him favors. Not to mention he was elected Governor in Iowa-twice. Theoretically this means he can get along with a Legislature, so Congressional relations could we well managed.

Director, National Security Council- Thomas P.M. Barnett. What is the biggest threat to groups that seek to create attacks against the US? Citizens in the “disconnected” world-Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, for example-who have a “buy-in” to our way of life; who know us, don’t find us threatening, and want to interact with us in non-violent ways. This cannot be accomplished by either military or diplomatic means alone. The mechanism of nation-building we need to be successful in a case such as Iraq dose not really exist, and the military is poorly suited for such a role. Barnett offers a practical and far more peaceful approach to resolving some of these questions. For a more complete idea of what he might want to do in office, use the “A video of the presentation is available” link here.

Secretary of State-I’m going out-of-the–box on this one, but hear me out: Ambassador Prudence Bushnell. Who in the world is that? She is currently Dean of the School of Leadership and Management at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. She was in the building immediately next door when the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed, and was wounded in the attack. She lived in Iran. She has a multicultural upbringing. Most significantly, she tried to get the US involved in Rwanda when no one would listen.

Secretary of Defense-I may get it for this one, but I’m proposing Tommy Franks. What closed it for me? Not just because of this quote from 2003...

"What is the worst thing that can happen in our country?" Franks asked rhetorically. "Two steps. The first step would be a nexus between weapons of mass destruction . . . and terrorism." The second step would be "the western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy."

...and not just because it appeared in Cigar Aficionado, of all places; but because any commander who is responsible for the quotes on this page is my kind of Secretary, indeed. Plus he’s truly qualified, which can’t hurt.

My runner up: Jim Webb- Tailhook and all.

Health and Human Services-Delaware’s Governor Ruth Ann Minner. Why?
Here’s part of the Governor’s official biography:

“Born in Slaughter Neck, Delaware, Ruth Ann Minner left school at age 16 to help her family work their farm. She later married Frank Ingram, who died suddenly when she was only 32 years old. As head of the household with three sons to raise, she returned to school to earn her General Educational Development (GED) diploma, while working two jobs and providing for her family. She later married Roger Minner, who died of lung cancer in 1991.

Beginning her political career in 1974, Governor Minner served four terms in the state House of Representatives (1974-1982), and served three terms in the state Senate (1982-1993). She served as Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor from 1993 until 2001. Governor Minner became the first female Governor of the state of Delaware on January 3, 2001.”

She has aroused concerns with her association with waste-disposal interests in the State, and her environmental policies; but there are also those who admire her efforts to address the problems facing Delaware citizens with cancer. If we take advantage of her strengths, HHS could be a good fit.

Director, NASA-John Pike has been an expert in this area for many, many years. For those of you not familiar with, visit and see his work in action. Before that he was with the Federation of American Scientists. We need some direction at this agency, and this could be our guy.

So there’s a start.
Who else needs to be on the team?

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