The three cabinet positions that will define the Obama administration are Treasury, State and Defense. The first name floated for Treasury is Larry Summers. This would be a disaster. If one thing Obama promised to end was Clintonomics, as represented by Bob Rubin and Larry Summers. The notion of a “Restoration” was soundly rejected in the Democratic Primaries. Summers would be the same old crowd with the same old coddling of Wall Street. These guys presided over the beginnings of financial deregulation and they should have nothing to do with the new Treasury Department. A far better choice would be Tim Geithner, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Geithner, was a lonely voice warning of the sub-prime mortgage bomb two years ago and he has both the experience and the youthful vigor to take on the most important job in the new Obama Administration.
On Defense, I am of two minds. I have written in recent weeks that Bob Gates understands some of the hard tasks that lay ahead in the remaking of our military to face the real threats of the 21st Century, not the cold war mentality of the 20th Century that many of the Generals are mired in. However, I still believe that Gates might be unwilling to make the real cuts in the Defense Budget. If Gates goes then Chuck Hagel, a Republican realist might be the right guy for the job. Hagel is a Vietnam vet and understands the foreign and defense policy challenges of our age.
For the State Department, I think John Kerry would be a good choice. He has spent years in the foreign policy arena and has met most of the foreign leaders giving a sense of security to the rest of the world. I would feel even better if Barack appointed Samantha Power as one of the top NSC players. She went into self-imposed exile from the campaign after calling out the Clintons in the midst of a heated primary race. She is one of the great original foreign policy thinkers in America and Barack should bring her into his administration.