Points By Drew Pritt

A Possible Barack Obama Administration
June 11, 2008, 12:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I thought it would be interesting to speculate on a potential Barack Obama Administration. As you know, I am touting Wesley Clark as his Vice President for the many reasons stated ad nauseam before. However, see what you think about these other choices.

 BARACK OBAMA – President

 WESLEY CLARK – Vice President

 JIM HIGHTOWER – Secretary of Agriculture

Hightower is a well-known author but others don’t realize he is a former Commissioner of Agriculture in Texas from 1982-1990. His tenure was noted for fostering organic production, alternative crops, direct marketing by small farmers, strong pesticide regulations, and other programs. During that time, he also became a leading national spokesman for populist and progressive Democrats.

 JAMES A. JOHNSON – Secretary of Commerce

Johnson is currently one of the three that Obama has turned to as a vetter for a Vice Presidential nominee. This Minnesota native also did this for Walter Mondale and was Mondale’s primary campaign manager. He was Director of Public Affairs for Target. From 1991 to 1998, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the quasi-public organization that guarantees mortgages for millions of American homeowners. Previously, he was vice chairman of Fannie Mae (1990-1991) and a managing director with Lehman Brothers (1985-1990). He is also a board member at Goldman Sachs and has served as chairman of both the Kennedy Center for the Arts (1996-2004) and the Brookings Institution (1994-2003). He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission.

  CHUCK ROBB – Secretary of Defense

U.S. Senator, 1988-2000, and a former Governor & Lt. Governor, as well as the son-in-law of Lyndon Johnson and a highly decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam, Robb would be a blue-ribbon pick for an Obama Administration. In 2004, he chaired the Iraq Intelligence Commission. A United States Marine Corps veteran and honor graduate of Quantico, Robb became a White House social aide. It was there that he met and eventually married Lynda Johnson, the daughter of then U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Robb went on to serve two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he commanded a rifle company in combat, and was awarded the Bronze Star. From 1977-1981, he was Virginia’s Lt. Governor. From 1981-1987, he was Governor, and from 1988-2000 was a U.S. Senator from Virginia. Robb ranked annually as one of the most ideologically centrist senators, and he often acted as a bridge between Democratic and Republican members, preferring background deal-making to seeking the legislative limelight. His fellow Democrats removed him from the Budget Committee for advocating deeper cuts in federal spending. Robb was the only senator from a Southern state to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. In stating his opposition to the bill, which his friends and supporters urged him to support, he said the following: “I feel very strongly that this legislation is wrong. Despite its name, the Defense of Marriage Act does not defend marriage against some imminent, crippling effect. Although we have made huge strides in the struggle against discrimination based on gender, race, and religion, it is more difficult to see beyond our differences regarding sexual orientation. The fact that our hearts don’t speak in the same way is not cause or justification to discriminate.”

 KURT SCHMOKE – Secretary of Education

Schmoke is the Dean of the Howard University School of Law and a former Mayor of Baltimore from 1987-1999.  As a student, Schmoke was a member of the Baltimore City College “A-course”, a college preparatory curriculum that required him to take Latin and other advanced studies not offered to the average Baltimore high school student. Schmoke was elected president of the school’s student government in his senior year but also worked in the Baltimore community with disadvantaged youth. Compulsory community service had not yet been mandated for Baltimore high school students; yet he tutored and mentored young men from the inner city as a member of the Lancers boys club. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush awarded him the national Literacy Award for his efforts to promote adult literacy, and in 1994 President Bill Clinton cited Baltimore’s programs to improve public housing and enhance community economic development and named Baltimore one of six cities to receive Empowerment Zone designation.

 ROBERT F. KENNEDY, Jr. – Secretary of Energy

The son and namesake of the famous U.S. Senator and nephew of the U.S. President, as well as scion of one of America’s longest-serving political dynasties, this Kennedy has been a conservationist and advocate for alternative fuel sources. Kennedy also founded, and is the current chairman of, the umbrella organization, Waterkeeper Alliance which connects and supports local waterkeeper groups. Today there are 177 waterkeeper programs worldwide operating under the trademarked “Riverkeeper”, “Lakekeeper”, “Baykeeper”, or “Coastkeeper” names. Since 1987 Kennedy has served as a Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and co-director of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace University School of Law. The clinic allows second and third year law students to try cases against alleged Hudson River polluters. Kennedy also serves as a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council a non-profit organization based in New York City which works to expand environmental laws and restrict land use. In a 2005 editorial for the New York Times, Kennedy argued, “As an environmentalist, I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many. But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development. I wouldn’t build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park. Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.”

Carol Moseley Braun CAROL MOSLEY BRAUN, Secretary of Health & Human Services

Braun was the first, and to date, the only, African American woman elected to the United States Senate, the first African-American senator to be elected as a Democrat, and the first female senator from Illinois. From 1999 until 2001, she was the United States Ambassador to New Zealand. Prior to her election to the U.S. Senate, Braun was a prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago from 1973 to 1977. An Assistant United States Attorney, she worked primarily in the civil and appellate law areas and tried cases of national importance. Her work in housing, health policy, and environmental law won her the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award. She subsequently received over 300 awards for achievements in the public interest. From 1978-1987, she served in the Illinois State House of Representatives, her colleagues recognized her in a resolution as “the conscience of the House.”

 RICK NORIEGA – Homeland Security

Noriega is currently the Democratic Nominee for U.S. Senate from Texas. Should Noriega falter and not win, his resume’ makes him an excellent candidate for Director of Homeland Security. He is a member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 145 in eastern Houston. Noriega joined the United States Army in 1979 in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis. He became a Lt. Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard, and most recently served in the War in Afghanistan that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks. On his return from Afghanistan, Mayor Bill White requested that Noriega command the evacuee shelter operation at the George Brown Convention Center, where he oversaw thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

  ED RENDELL – Secretary of Housing & Urban Affairs

Rendell, who is currently Governor of Pennsylvania, will see his second term end in 2010 because of term limits. Prior to his election as Governor, Rendell served as Mayor of Philadelphia from 1991-1999. As mayor, Rendell inherited massive fiscal problems. The state legislature established a fiscal oversight board to monitor the City of Philadelphia’s fiscal issues. During his career as mayor, Rendell cut a $250 million deficit; balanced Philadelphia’s budget and oversaw five consecutive years of budget surpluses; reduced business and wage taxes for four consecutive years; implemented new revenue-generating initiatives, and dramatically improved services to Philadelphia neighborhoods. Rendell’s cost-cutting policies brought him strong opposition from labor unions; however, he was re-elected in 1995, defeating Republican Joe Rocks with 80% of the vote. He resigned on December 21, 1999, shortly before the end of his term, to take up the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Later, in his first year as Governor, Rendell created the Office of Management and Productivity with the goal of cutting $1 billion in administrative expenses by the end of his first term. One of the most widely touted successes from Rendell’s productivity initiative was strategic sourcing in which he overhauled the Commonwealth’s antiquated procurement system, leading to $180 million in annual savings and a quadrupling of Pennsylvania’s minority and women owned business participation rate.

 CAROL BROWNER – Secretary of Interior

Browner served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration in the United States. She is the longest-serving administrator in the history of the agency.  In the early stage of her career, she worked for Citizen Action as its associate director and served as general counsel to the Florida House Committee on Government Operations. Between 1986 and 1991, she served as a key aide to Senator Lawton Chiles (D-Fl.) and then-Senator Al Gore (D-Tn.). Browner headed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from 1991 to 1993.  She took the lead in the Clinton Administration in successfully fighting efforts by the Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, to weaken the Clean Water Act. She was able to work in a bipartisan manner, though, with Congressional Republicans in helping craft amendments to strengthen the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act. Browner came from Florida with a reputation as someone who could work with the private sector. While at EPA, she expanded the Agency’s flexible public-private partnerships as alternatives to traditional regulation through Project XL (designed to find common sense, cost effective solutions to environmental issues at individual facilities) and the Common Sense Initiative (targeted at efforts involving entire industry sectors). Browner also started EPA’s successful brownfields program, which, during her tenure, helped facilitate cleanups of contaminated facilities, especially in urban areas, and which leveraged more than $1 billion in public and private funds for cleanups.

 LARRY ECHOHAWK – Attorney General

Echohawk was the first Native American elected to a constitutional statewide office, serving as Attorney General of Idaho from 1991 to 1995. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1973 from the University of Utah and entered law practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1977 he became general legal counsel for the Fort Hall, Idaho-based Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. A progressive Democrat, EchoHawk entered politics in 1982 by winning a seat in the Idaho State House of Representatives from Bannock County. Four years later he was elected Bannock County prosecuting attorney. In 1990 EchoHawk was elected Attorney General of Idaho. In 1994 EchoHawk announced his candidacy to succeed fellow Democrat Cecil D. Andrus, who was retiring as Governor of Idaho. EchoHawk easily won the Democratic nomination, fueling speculation that he could be the nation’s first Native American governor. However, he was defeated in the general election by Republican Phil Batt. EchoHawk has not been a candidate for public office since. Shortly after his 1994 defeat, EchoHawk accepted a faculty position at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. In that capacity he teaches courses in criminal law, criminal procedure and federal Indian law. He has also published several scholarly papers.

 CECIL ROBERTS – Secretary of Labor

Roberts is a sixth-generation coal miner and President of the United Mine Workers of America. Roberts became president of the UMWA on Oct. 22, 1995, having served as vice president of the union since December 1982. Roberts’ great uncle, Bill Blizzard, was a legendary organizer during the West Virginia mine wars of the 1920s and a UMWA district president under John L. Lewis. Both of his grandfathers were killed in the mines. In 1989, Roberts was the day-to-day negotiator in the UMWA’s militant 10-month strike against the Pittston Co., which had cut off health benefits to its retirees and was trying to walk away from its obligations to the UMWA health and retirement funds. For his role in that successful strike, Roberts received the Rainbow Coalition’s Martin Luther King award as well as awards from Citizen Action and the Midwest Academy. In December 2001, Roberts bargained a new five-year national agreement more than a year before scheduled expiration of the existing contract. The new agreement included the highest pension increases ever negotiated and “30-and-Out” language that now allowed miners with 30 years’ service to retire with full benefits at any age.

John Kerry  JOHN KERRY – Secretary of State

Not since Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr., has a former Presidential nominee been so qualified for the State Department post. He is currently serving his fourth term as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Senator Kerry is currently the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He is a Vietnam Veteran, and was a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War when he returned home from service. Before entering the Senate, he served as a District Attorney and Lt. Governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis, also a future Democratic Presidential nominee in 1988. On April 18, 1985, a few months after taking his Senate seat, Kerry and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa traveled to Nicaragua and met the country’s president, Daniel Ortega. Though Ortega was democratically elected, the trip was criticized because Ortega and his leftist Sandinista government had strong ties to Cuba and the USSR. The Sandinista government was opposed by the right-wing CIA-backed rebels known as the Contras. While in Nicaragua, Kerry and Harkin talked to people on both sides of the conflict. Through the senators, Ortega offered a cease-fire agreement in exchange for the US dropping support of the Contras. The offer was denounced by the Reagan administration as a “propaganda initiative” designed to influence a House vote on a $14 million Contra aid package, but Kerry said “I am willing … to take the risk in the effort to put to test the good faith of the Sandinistas.” The House voted down the Contra aid, but Ortega flew to Moscow to accept a $200 million loan the next day, which in part prompted the House to pass a larger $27 million aid package six weeks later.

  DAVID L. GUNN – Secretary of Transportation

Gunn is a transportation system administrator who has headed several important railroads and transit systems in North America. Gunn has a philosophy called “state of good repair” where the first priority is to maintain infrastructure and equipment, making regular repairs where needed and retiring equipment from service at the end of its life-cycle. This brought him in frequent conflict with TTC chairman Howard Moscoe, who advocated the use of funds for improving TTC accessibility. Gunn’s tenure at the TTC was also marked by changes in management structure, which were criticized by some. During his tenure at WMATA (Metro) from 1991-1994, Gunn’s refusal to “do politics” put him at odds with Metro’s board of directors, which included representatives from the District of Columbia and suburban jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia. His work as president of the New York City Transit Authority from 1984 to 1990 and as Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission in Canada from 1995-1999 earned him a great deal of operating credibility as these two agencies were each the largest transit operations of their respective countries. In New York City, most people consider his most notable achievement to have been the complete eradication of graffiti on NYCTA trains, a task most New Yorkers thought impossible. During his administration at Amtrak, Gunn was polite, but very direct in response to congressional criticism, and is seen as more credible than several past Amtrak presidents by the Congress, the media, and many Amtrak supporters and employees. Perhaps more than any past president of Amtrak, Gunn seemed willing to publicly oppose the political and budget positions of the President of the United States. The view of the Gunn administration at Amtrak was that no form of mass passenger transportation in the United States is self-sufficient as the economy is currently structured. It said that highways, airports, and air traffic control all require large government expenditures to build and maintain, although some of those taxpayer dollars are gained for other modes under the guise of user fees and highway fuel and road taxes. Before a Congressional hearing, Gunn answered a demand by leading Amtrak critic Arizona Senator John McCain (R-Az.) to eliminate all operating subsidies by asking the Senator if he would also demand the same of the commuter airlines, upon whom the citizens of Arizona are much more dependent. McCain, usually not at a loss for words when debating Amtrak funding, did not reply.

 SALLIE KRAWCHECK – Secretary of Treasury

She is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Citi Global Wealth Management (GWM) in charge of the Citi Private Bank, Citi Smith Barney, and Citi Investment Research, which comprises the second largest wealth management business in the world, with nearly $1.8 trillion in client assets and $13 billion in revenue. As the most powerful woman in financial services, Sallie’s meteoric rise on Wall Street is attributed to her success in turning around and accelerating growth in, a number of underperforming financial services businesses.

Sallie started her career at Sanford Bernstein as a research analyst covering financial services stocks. She was ranked number 1 by “Institutional Investor” in her field during every year she worked as an analyst, which is almost unheard-of. Promoted to Director of Research and then CEO of Bernstein, she bucked the Wall Street tide of tying research to investment banking and squarely called the Internet bubble as unsustainable. While the significant investments made in value-based research were controversial at the time, they paid off strongly when the stock market bubble burst.

  CAROL MUTTER – Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs

Lieutenant General Carol A. Mutter (Retired) was the first woman in the US Armed Forces promoted to three-star rank. She retired from the U.S. Marine Corps effective January 1, 1999. Her last assignment was as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (DC/S, M&RA), Marine Corps HQ, Washington, D.C. After completing the Woman Officer Basic Course in 1967 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, she was assigned to data processing installations at Quantico, VA and at Camp Pendleton, CA. In 1971, she returned to Quantico as a platoon commander and instructor for women officer candidates and basic course lieutenants; she departed this tour as a Captain. During 1973-1984, she progressed to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel while serving as Project Officer for Marine Air Command and Control Systems at Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity at Camp Pendleton, California; Financial Management Officer at the Development Center, Quantico, Virginia; Assistant Chief of Staff, Comptroller, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, Japan; and Deputy Comptroller at Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1985, capitalizing on her expertise in both data processing and financial management, she was assigned as the Deputy Program Manager, and subsequently Program Manager, for the development of new Marine Corps automated pay and personnel systems for active duty, retired, and reserve Marines. In July 1988 as a Colonel she joined the United States Space Command, J-3 (Operations) Directorate in Colorado Springs becoming the first woman to gain qualification as a Space Director. After initially serving as a Command Center Crew Commander/Space Director she became the Division Chief responsible for the operation of the Space Command Commander in Chief’s Command Center. August 1990 brought a transfer to III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) on Okinawa, Japan and duty as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Comptroller for both III MEF and 3rd Marine Division. In June 1991, she returned to Quantico as a Brigadier General to serve as the Deputy Commanding General, Marine Corps Systems Command and Program Manager for Command and Control Systems. In June 1992, she again transferred to Okinawa, this time as the first woman of general/flag officer rank to command a major deployable tactical command, the 3d Force Service Support Group, III MEF, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific. In June of 1994, she became the first woman Marine Major General  and served as Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command at Marine Corps Base Quantico. Upon advancement to Lieutenant General (the first woman in the Marine Corps to attain this rank) on September 1, 1996, she assumed her duties as DC/S M&RA. General Mutter also attended the Amphibious Warfare School and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Her medals and decorations include: the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation with bronze star, National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with four bronze stars.


1 Comment so far
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David Gunn sounds like a great Under Secretary of Transportation, a real nuts-and-bolts guy. For Secretary, why not Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Portland – a western state and one of the few growing new cities with a commitment to mass transit. Blumenauer is a leading advocate for “livable” cities, advocating for smart, compact growth focused around public transportation.

Comment by Blaine Palmer

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