Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good News on the Cabinet Front

Sorry, noternie, but I'm not done with this. Nice to see Congressman Xavier Becerra choosing to stay in Congress rather than at the negotiations table as US Trade Representative (which I mentioned here). Meanwhile, Tom Vilsack will be making himself useful by using his expertise as former Iowa governor in his new role of Secretary of Agriculture. In a particularly inspired move, Obama is getting somewhat-DINO roadblock Ken Salazar out of the Senate as Secretary of the Interior.

All in all, a good day in Cabinet news.

Okay, I have to confess something horrible. I want David Paterson to appoint Elliot Spitzer as New York's Senator as Hillary Clinton's 2-year replacement. I can't help myself. I don't like that Caroline Kennedy wants the job on the basis of her last name. And I understand that she is well-qualified with valuable life experience. She's not a clod, but she's not that special, either. New York has no shortage of well-qualified Democrats with valuable life experience. What makes Kennedy special is, well, her last name.

It's not just about Kennedy, though. I want a seat-filler. Somebody who can't and won't run again, because any way you slice it, whomever Paterson appoints is a de facto incumbent running for re-election. I don't like this short-circuiting of democracy. My ideal candidate has a set of skills that are needed at a moment like this, and will not attempt to leverage his seat into a re-election. I've been trying to think of prominent retired New York Democrats, but can't come up with anything else.

I can't imagine Spitzer would have the guts to try to win over New Yorkers by November 2009, especially as he'd be a wounded duck from day one. But boy would he be a valuable voice in discussing bailouts and corporate fraud on the Hill. He's a bloody smart guy when he's thinking with his brain. And let's face it, with the high number of Republican adulterers running around the Senate, what's another one?

I know this is morally wrong in so many ways, but I can't help thinking it's a good idea on balance.

PS: I finally rented The Dark Knight. Yeah, Heath Ledger was pretty good as The Joker, but as much different from Jack Nicholson as better. However, my favorite acting performance in the movie was by Senator Pat Leahy. Tchotchkes such as a free deck, a new wardrobe, a private subway or free trips are all fine Senate perks, but a speaking role in a Batman movie -- that's how to use your power!

PPS: Turns out that Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser is mired in some pretty bad scandal. On the other hand, the fact that a man with the last name Funkhouser made it so far into public service is pretty admirable, too.

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