Doris Kearns Goodwin for Commerce Secretary
So much for that team of rivals President Obama has had his eye on in recent months. Throughout the presidential transition, we heard ad nauseum about how the composition of the president-elect’s cabinet would reflect Abraham Lincoln’s divergent viewpoint approach to executive governance, as recently popularized in a book by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Obama’s desire for a team of his own was no doubt driven in part by his genuine fascination with our sixteenth president, but it was also most certainly a reaction to the tremendous criticism the Bush Administration received for its years of insularity and groupthink.
Senator Gregg seems to suggest his withdrawal is largely a very public case of cold feet. But as many Republicans in Congress appear to be reveling in their unified opposition to the stimulus package (even with passage likely), Gregg may have also become concerned he would end up as a man without a country over at Commerce. Whatever the true underlying cause, the White House and Republicans are now engaged in a pretty vicious round of “he said, he said” finger-pointing, as each side tries to blame the other for the collapse of this brief episode of partisan rapprochement.
So, we will see whether President Obama attempts to bring another true rival into his inner circle of policy advisors. If you are instead counting on former Republican Congressman Ray LaHood at Transportation to be a constant foil for Obama, you may be disappointed. Does anyone remember Norman Mineta? That leaves only Bob Gates at the Pentagon, but he is a bureaucrat, rather than a duly elected rival. Plus, he and Obama seem to be largely on the same page for the moment, which makes him a part of the team, but not much of a rival.

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