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 So much so, in fact, that Pritzker has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Commerce post.
Status of appointment: Story confirmed; acceptance initially forthcoming but withdrawn.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.