Others may come from the nation’s statehouses. Obama is said to be considering Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for energy secretary and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano for homeland security. According to Cato fellow Michael Tanner, while Napolitano, who governs a border state and has a track record in law enforcement, is a more solid pick, both smack a little bit of expressions of gratitude for their support during the campaign rather than the best choice for the proposed job.
“Napolitano has some background there so a more plausible case can be made for her especially if you’re moving away from the terrorism center, but it’s a little bit of a reward for people who’ve backed him,” Tanner says. “He has to dish out the favors and reward people who came on board for him fairly early. Obama also seems to be striving for a 50-50 male/female cabinet with prominent women in high profile positions.”
Mackenzie says there’s more to a transition than putting a team together. Cabinet selections often provide clues about a new administration’s policies, but Obama has been very outspoken about what his policies are going to be.
“It’s almost as if he’s already president. I don’t think there’s any precedent for that among incoming presidents,” says Mackenzie, recalling Obama’s weekly message that is now broadcast on YouTube and is very detailed. “President Bush seems very comfortable stepping aside and being out of the way. But we’re in a serious crisis and I think the country has no faith that the outgoing administration has solutions for it and is looking for leadership in a substantive way but also a sense of calm and hope from the incoming president and we’re getting it.”