Thursday, October 2, 2008

Robert Gates should stay on as Defense Secretary

Mindful of the complaints of folks like Matt Yglesias, who question the symbolism of a Republican SecDef in a Democratic administration as a tacit admission that Democrats can't really keep them safe, I think that Obama should offer Bob Gates an extension in the job. It would be a real act of bipartisanship, and it's meritocratic, as Gates has done a fine job in the role. He's been honest and effective, and he's killed a few wasteful projects here and there. I doubt Gates would stick around for more than a year or two, anyway, as he's intent on retiring, at which point Obama could put in Wes Clark or Jim Webb or someone like that. The symbolism does suck, but these are extenuating circumstances, as Gates has done a damn good job.

Plus, in case the GOP has a "stabbed in the back" narrative in waiting with respect to Iraq, Gates being in charge helps defuse it. When it comes to cabinet appointments, the other GOPer that should be considered is Chuck Hagel for Secretary of State. He knows his stuff and he's a rare non-neocon Republican. I don't see an Yglesian case for why this would be bad for Democrats, as Democrats are naturally considered more inclined toward diplomacy than are Republicans these days. Picking someone who agrees with you with respect to the job at hand but disagrees with you on most other things simply looks good, and I doubt it erodes Obama's reputation as being a proponent of tough diplomacy much at all.

On the other hand, I don't think putting Republicans at Treasury, Justice or Homeland Security makes much sense. The latter is really bad if you also have a Republican at defense, and putting a Democrat at justice is necessary due to all the partisan firings and manipulation there, just to balance things out. Chris Dodd would be my choice there (though I doubt it will be him), and I think that Sam Nunn is a good choice for Secretary of Homeland Security. I honestly have no idea who would be a good treasury secretary. Jon Corzine? Who knows what sort of ethics things are going on with him. Robert Reich, perhaps?

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.