One of the least wealthy members of the Senate, the future veep and foreign policy guru will be getting a raise to go with his new digs. Amtrakers will miss him, but Washington is happy to welcome the Biden express; none more so than the press corps, who are counting on him for straight talk, and the occasional gaffe.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Did Obama offer Hillary the secretary of state job in order to create a Lincolnian ‘team of rivals’, or, perhaps to “keep friends close and enemies closer”? Either way, Clinton has ample clout, gravitas, and plenty of goodwill leftover from the 1990’s.
Obama’s choice for secretary of the tresaury looks younger than his 47 years, and is an avid skateboarder and snow boarder. In temperment, he is similar to Obama: suspicious of rigid ideology, Geithner prefers an exchange of ideas, and possesses a keen awareness of how uncertain the world is. Not surprising, given that he has lived in East Africa, India, and Japan.
ERIC HOLDER JR.
The Bill Clinton/Marc Rich pardon scandal notwithstanding, America’s first African-American attorney general will be held in high esteem for his competence and reputation for bipartisanship. The Columbia grad and one-time college basketball player was named one of the “Greatest Washington lawyers of the past 30 years,” by Legal Times.
The former Iowa governor and Obama’s secretary of agriculture pick was an early candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination, as were a number of Obama’s other Cabinet picks. He reportedly approached his future wife with the line, “Are you a Humphrey or a Nixon supporter?” We assume it was the former, as the couple are still married.
Keeping the secretary of defense in his current post goes one step further in Obama’s campaign promise of post-partisan politics. Gates is respected on both sides of the aisle for his pragmatism and humility, and while Obama’s decision was initially viewed with skepticism by some progressives, there is strong public and private support for the status quo.
Arizona’s governor is consistently named one of the nation’s most effective state leaders. Barred from seeking a third term in 2010, this cancer survivor and former counsel to Anita Hill is poised to lead the Department of Homeland Security. An avid hiker and white water rafter, Napolitano has even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
This elder statesman will assume the top post at HHS after serving as a Democratic Party talent scout since 2005. The former Senate majority leader was instrumental in creating Obama’s campaign machine, providing him early on with a ready-made fundraising apparatus that included key staffers and crucial database lists.
Obama’s choice for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has spent 16 years at the EPA and three years as commissioner of New Jersey’s Dept. of Environmental Protection. A native of New Orleans, the Princeton graduate helped make N.J. a leader in emissions reductions, while overseeing some of the nation’s largest toxic waste cleanups.
While at the helm of the Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s thrid largest system, Duncan was introduced to Obama by his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson. The future secretary of education is a former professional basketball player (in Australia), who often shoots hoops with Obama, helped construct the president’s education plan.
An experimental physicist and Nobel laureate, Obama’s choice for energy secretary is director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is owned by the Energy Department. Chu, who taught himself to play tennis after reading a book about the sport, is an vocal advocate of scientific solutions to global warming. He will also be first Nobel laureate in a president’s Cabinet.
Commissioner of New York City’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development has focused on building more low- and moderate-income housing in NYC while appeasing lenders, developers and landlords. The Harvard-trained architect took a leave of absence to campaign for Obama.
With a strong commitment to organized labor, Obama’s choice for labor secretary has tremendously strong union backing—she spearheaded the fight to raise the minimum wage in California—and is close to Speaker Pelosi. The daughter of two immigrants who met at a citizenship class, Solis believes in the potential of the green revolution to produce union jobs.
Obama’s pick for interior secretary is a fifth generation Coloradan, a rancher, farmer, conservationist, and an opponent of using public land for the development of oil shale. Still, he is viewed as a moderate who has backed subsidies for ranchers on public land as well as offshore drilling. He acknowledges the need for domestic energy and strong agricultural production.
This two-time recipient of the Purple Heart, and Obama’s choice to lead Veterans Affairs, fell out of favor with the Bush administration by questioning Iraq strategy, suggesting that far more troops were needed at the outset. The Hawaiian-born English lit. major has since been lauded by Obama and Iraq vets for his correct assessment of the conflict.
A Republican congressman from Central Illinois since ’95, Obama’s choice for secretary of transportation is close to Rahm Emanuel, and is considered to be a centrist who backs federal spending as a way to spur economic growth. During 2008, LaHood’s son, Sam, worked for John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Next up: The White House
The Obamasphere: Cabinet