Obama Cabinet Watch: Commerce/HomeSec

Couple of new developments in President-elect Obama’s new Cabinet search.

Obama is believed to have been vetting billionaire Penny Pritzker for the post of Secretary of Commerce. Pritzker was the Obama campaign’s finance chairman; the two of them have long-standing ties in Chicago. However, a wrinkle has already made itself evident: Pritzker’s years-long history in the subprime mortgage industry. Her experience in the business goes right to the heart of the housing and credit meltdown: she and the bank she helped run in the early 1990s made a great deal of money converting subprime mortgages to securities and selling them to investors. Amazingly, the McCain campaign never brought this up to any noticeable degree during the election season, but now that it is drawing attention, it’s finally causing Obama some embarrassment. So much so, in fact, that Pritzker has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Commerce post.

Status of appointment: Story confirmed; acceptance initially forthcoming but withdrawn. Obama transition team cites “vetting issues.”

Another appointment appears to be going a bit more smoothly: Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) has been named for Secretary of Homeland Security. Napolitano has made a few headlines on the immigration enforcement front, but her performance is dubious. Miz Michelle notes:

She vetoed a bill cracking down on phony matricula consular cards for illegal aliens and rejected efforts allowing more cooperation between local law enforcement and the feds. She opposes assimilationist measures on English language and ID requirements to prevent voter fraud; she supports in-state tuition discounts for illegal aliens.

In short, her record implies that she’s not big on enforcing existing immigration law, and the purportedly tough laws she has approved on the immigration front were intended primarily to take the air out of even tougher ballot measures being pushed by voters.

Status of appointment: Story and acceptance confirmed; Senate approval likely.

Over at the Pentagon, Obama appears to be mulling an interesting choice that is sure to rile his supporters on the antiwar left. He appears to be considering keeping current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates where he is for a while. Obama did say he’d reach across the aisle to make his Cabinet bipartisan, but this is a hell of a place to start! Not that I’m necessarily complaining; Sec. Gates oversaw the revamping of our approach to the Iraq War to include the troop surge that completely turned the war around (is this Obama’s way of finally admitting that the surge worked?). However, Obama’s core supporters who voted for him as an antiwar statement will not be thrilled with Obama putting a Bush Administration veteran at the head of the Iraq effort.

Status of retention: Unconfirmed but signals lean toward retention. Senate approval unnecessary.

Meanwhile, in Foggy Bottom news, Bill Clinton has just made a major move toward facilitating the ascent of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to Secretary of State. (Earlier post on the subject here.) He has agreed to reveal information about donors to his charitable foundation on which previously he had kept a death-grip, even during Hillary’s presidential campaign. There is still no solid offer on Obama’s part, nor an explicit expression of interest on Hillary’s part, so we still don’t know for sure whether Hillary wants the job, but from this unexpected spasm of transparency on Bill’s part we sure can get a sense of how much he wants it for her.

Status of appointment: Still pending; interest unclear. Intensifying vetting process may signal that there’s more communication between the Obama and Clinton camps than meets the eye.

Whew! Will bring more news as it comes.

Respect the ‘stache!

Roger Clegg over at NRO points out something I hadn’t considered. Eric Holder’s nomination as the next Attorney General, if approved by the Senate (as it almost certainly will), would mark the first time an African-American has served as Attorney General. Historic, of course. However, Clegg puts his finger on something of far greater consequence: Holder would be the first Attorney General in 100 years with facial hair.

More on the history leading up to Holder’s tearing his way through the hair ceiling below the break.

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Obama Cabinet Watch: Health & Human Services UPDATE: SecDef Powell?

WitSnapper’s hiatus skipped over a couple of rumored and actual tappings for Cabinet and Cabinet-level posts in the upcoming Obama administration. (Still no sign of any answer to Chuck Schumer’s aspirations for Information Minister.)

First, the most recent: for Secretary of Health and Human Services, President-elect Obama is believed to have chosen former senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), defeated for re-election in 2004. Word is Daschle will also act as the White House’s point man on health policy (“health czar”), which means he will be more influential in the actual writing of the President’s health care policy than a HHS Secretary normally would be.  Daschle is currently a special advisor to a Washington lobbying firm. He is not a registered lobbyist, though his wife is, and she does have some health industry clients.

Status of appointment: Story and acceptance confirmed; Senate approval likely.

More appointment news from the hiatus below the break.

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Alaska: Race is over

The prince has been dethroned. The long recount in Alaska is almost over, and not enough ballots remain to give convicted incumbent Senator Ted Stevens a chance of overtaking Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Next stop: prison. So long, Citizen Stevens; I recommend the bologna sandwich with mac-‘n’-cheese. (More here, here, and here.)

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-NC) had already written up a resolution of expulsion from the GOP conference just in case Stevens managed to stage a comeback, but DeMint was persuaded to hold off until the election results were certain. Now the expulsion plan has been shelved, as Alaskan voters have done the job Senate Republicans should have done months ago.

Total Senate seats in Democratic hands in the coming Congress: 58. Number of Senate races with results yet to be determined: two (MN and GA). Chances of a filibuster-proof Democratic majority: long, but still within reach, at least in terms of party. Republicans may be virtually incapable of mounting a filibuster in a practical sense anyway, given their demonstrated aversion to anything resembling a sense of unity.

Both sides of p0rn, thru the Fairness Doctrine

Congratulations, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), you’ve said what may well win you the Single Stupidest TV Sound Bite of the 2008 Election Season award. And that takes some doing.

The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.

So Senator Schumer believes that you can’t regulate hardcore smut flicks and, at the same time, not regulate mainstream conservative talk radio, because that just wouldn’t be “consistent.” You see, it’s all or nothing when it comes to government intrusion. You can’t hide your kids’ eyes from a degrading cable goatsex simulcast, and still leave them free to turn the radio to Laura Ingraham. For the love of all that is sacred, Think Of The Children!™

Which side of this inconsistency bothers you more, Sen. Schumer? That mainstream conservative talk radio may be inappropriate and harmful to minors or those with delicate sensibilities? Or is it that bondage reels won’t give sufficient “equal time” to the submissive party for rebuttal?

More here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Barack Obama has won the election. First, congratulations, Mr. President-elect. Second, I ask that you resist Sen. Schumer’s entreaties for an appointment as your new Minister of Information.