Friday, 28 November 2008

Reality Check

This is just a short note to point out that, despite reams of speculation, rumors and reporting about virtually every cabinent position (Richardson for Commerce! Hillary for State!) as far as I can find, the only officially announced Obama Cabinet appointment so far has been Timothy Geithner as Obama's choice for Secretary of the Treasury.

I'm not saying all the speculation is necessarily inaccurate, I'm just saying - in terms of actual announcements about Cabinet level positions from the President Elect himself... That's all that I can find. If anyone else knows a confirmed appointment that I missed out on, please let me know. For example, Tom Daschle is widely spoken of as having accepted a position at Health and Human Services - but I haven't seen any official announcement confirming this.

Meanwhile, the administration has been (rightly in my view) focussed on 2 things:

1) Fleshing out a robust and experience economic policy team to provide confidence to the markets and to begin drafting proposals to be implemented immediately after Obama takes office.

2) Appointing White House staff across all policy areas to provide advice and guidance to the President elect that will help to, among other things, improve the process of selecting Cabinet officers. This strategic understanding of the President-elect's needs during the transition seems to be one of the real strengths that John Podesta has been able to bring to the team as Transition head, and is based no doubt on some hard lessons well learned from Bill Clinton's transition process.

As far as the other rumored and expected appointments - I just think it is important to remember that even if every article posted is true, none of that implies that he person discussed definitely will be appointed. Obama's team has shown from the beginning that they want a thorough and unhurried vetting process for their nominees and their is no telling what the results of that process might be in any case. Also, remember that Cabinet officers all have to go through the Senate approvals process - and though I would be surprised if Obama appointed anyone who would have a serious problem getting through that process (especially with an increased Democratic majority), I'm sure he is going to want to show his former Senate colleagues the respect of taking that process seriously. So it's a one step at a time thing - something to mull over as you chew on your turkey leftovers.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

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