Obama Administration: Cabinet and Key Positions

Ronald Kirk


As a former first black mayor of Dallas and failed U.S. Senate candidate, Kirk has little trade experience. What he does have is charisma and connections, which may be more important at a time when America is being criticized for being “protectionist.” That winning personality will be critical as he seeks to develop and oversee U.S.trade strategy, policy, and negotiation; open foreign markets to U.S. products and services’ and coordinate trade policy with Congress, and the State and Commerce Departments. The “Buy America” provision in the economic stimulus legislation passed by Congress may prove to be a hurdle, as well as barriers to enforcement of US trade agreements by foreign nations. Kirk, Obama’s fourth nominee with tax problems, as mayor, hosted small businesses on trade missions and pledged during his hearing to increase opportunities for American entrepreneurs in the global marketplace.

Susan Rice


Rice recently faced—and passed–her first big test as the nation’s top diplomat when she won a unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that condemns North Korea’s test missile launch and demands that the nation discontinue such activities. It was a hard-earned victory, given the United States’ history of strained relations with the UN. Rice, who is known to not suffer fools lightly, will play a key role in helping Obama keep his campaign promise of a new era of American foreign policy and can be counted on to be vocal on issues of human rights in such nations as Haiti and Darfur.

Rahm Emmanuel


Known for his profanity-laced tirades, Emmanuel has shown remarkable restraint since he became White House chief of staff. Despite his volatile reputation, Emmanuel has proven that he has the both the temperament and the finesse to advance the administration’s views and build a consensus among the competing egos in Congress and the White House. He has worked hard to find bipartisan solutions to the nation’s current economic crisis. “This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that we could not do before,” he said in one interview. “The good news, I suppose if you want to see a silver lining, is the problems are big enough that they lend themselves to both parties for the solution.”

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