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Candidates For Obama Administration Positions

Post Business reporters have been working their beats, coming up with possible candidates for jobs in the Obama transition and administration.

Here's what reporter Sholnn Freeman has found out:


-- Mortimer L. Downey, who served as No. 2 at Transportation for eight years under Clinton, is expected to take a lead role in transition planning for the department, according to person close to the process. Downey served as the deputy in the department under both Rodney Slater and Federico Pena. Additionally, the source said Pena has been deeply involved in current transition work broadly and in departments in addition to Transportation.

And here's what reporter Steve Mufson has found out:


-- One leading candidate is Larry Summers, a brilliant economist who served in the Clinton administration as Treasury Secretary. He later became president of Harvard University, though his tenure there was marked by a dispute over a comment he made about women and academia. He has been very active in the past couple of months in shaping Obama’s economic message.

-- Another top Treasury candidate: Timothy Geithner, the youthful-looking president of the New York Federal Reserve. Geithner is highly regarded and is a former Treasury official. The New York Fed job is hugely important and has given him a lot of hands-on experience with big banks. But picking him means having to find someone else for the New York Fed job at a crucial time.

-- Another name mentioned is Paul Volcker, but that seems much less likely. The former Fed chairman is in his 80s and will probably end up playing a prominent but less formal advisory role. (During the first Reagan administration, Volcker got the Carter administration stagflation under control, though it was Carter who appointed him. -- Frank Ahrens.)

-- Laura Tyson, chairman of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and a Cal-Berkeley economics prof, is said to want the Treasury job, but is given less of a chance. She might fit in elsewhere, perhaps as head of the National Economic Council in the White House or at another cabinet post.

The National Economic Council job. This is a coordination job and it seems like a possible spot for one of the many people who have been helping to coordinate the campaign’s economic message.

-- Those people include Daniel Tarullo, a Georgetown law professor who was with Obama early and is well-liked.

-- Jason Furman, who joined Obama team after the senator won the nomination.

-- Or any number of Wall Street banker/financiers who have advised Obama from early on. They include people like Josh Steiner, founder of New York's Quadrangle Group and Clinton's Treasury chief of staff.

Energy Department:

-- A lot of people have mentioned Gov. Ed Rendell (D) from Pennsylvania as a possibility for the Cabinet-level job.

Other secretary candidates could include:

-- Ret. Gen. James L. Jones has done a lot of work with the Chamber of Commerce promoting energy plans. And:

-- FedEx chief executive Fred Smith, a Republican, has also been active on energy issues.

The Department of Energy mostly handles nuclear weapons and waste issues. The energy policy bit is smaller and largely about setting appliance standards, national labs and research. One new task it will have: promoting carbon capture and storage so that coal plants won’t emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

That might create a desire for a senior-level expert in that area, maybe someone like:

-- Ernie Moniz at MIT for an upper-level position. His expertise in carbon capture and storage might be a plus because R&D in this area is funded through Energy.

Once you get past the top couple of posts, there are still a lot of important jobs.

For most of the year, there has been a regular conference call that included Obama backers in the New York financial community, many of whom would be very capable at any number of jobs.

They include Lewis Alexander, Citigroup economist; David Lipton at Citigroup (former Treasury under secretary for international affairs); Robert Rubin's son James, now at private equity firm BC Partners; Eric Mindich, of private equity firm Eton Park Capital; and Michael Froman, who was Rubin's chief of staff at Treasury and who knows Obama from Harvard Law School. Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs economist and new partner, is also said to be interested in an administration job.

U.S. Trade Representative:

-- Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt is said to be interested in this job.

-- Frank Ahrens

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By Frank Ahrens  |  November 5, 2008; 5:53 PM ET
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Only one day after the election and it's already looking the same.

Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, who was just offered the position of Chief of Staff, likes to thwart the will of the people by preselecting who he and Sen. Schumer feel worthy of winning Democratic Primary Elections. Those two prefer to see uncontested primaries, so there is no proper voter scrutiny and vetting of the final candidate. This could open up their top-down strategy to overlook fatal flaws.

Those primary elections are none of their affair. Primary winners should owe their loyalty to the citizens of their respective voting districts, not the self designated leaders of the Democratic Party.

I am just as tired of the top-down DINO-Fascists as I am of the top-down Neocon-Fascists we just voted out of office.

So I do not want to see more of the same in the Oval Office on January 21.

Look, if Obama wants to put anyone he wants in office, that's fine by me, as long as they adhere to doing what is right by the people, and not by the corporatocracy and the war for profit machine.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | November 5, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

to kevin schmidt --- you shouldn't be talking about anyone picking anyone for top level jobs in the government. i'm assuming you're a bushie so i further assume that you haven't really looked at who your favorite nitwit appointed to his cabinet and other high level governmental jobs. bush's problem is that he wanted to be the smartest man in the room - consequently he made sure he picked low grade morons for his staff and cabinet.

obama is a helluva lot smarter than bush and knows he doesn't know everything and will pick people who complement his intelligence.

Posted by: dibick99 | November 5, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

It would be great for Obama to bring in some senior Technologists from Industry and our best Universities.

Stanford, Berkeley and Silicon Valley are the best places to start, MIT's good too...

Posted by: svreader | November 5, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I hope that Cabinet possibilities floated by the Obama camp will include some non-traditional choices that could create a diverse and centrist administration. Many of the names suggested thus far suggest that we might be revisiting the Clinton years. Among them:
--Rahm Emmanuel (mentioned for Chief of Staff) is extremely smart and effective, but he was a key Clinton White House operative who more recently headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-- a highly partisan and potentially divisive choice.
--Larry Summers (mentioned for Treasury Secretary) is brilliant but abrasive (remember his difficulties as President of Harvard?), and is also heavily identified with the Clinton years at Tresury (not necessarily a bad thing for the Treasury job).
--John Podesta, who is heading the Obama transition team, was a top advisor to Bill Clinton throughout his presidency.

Emmanuel, Summers and Podesta are highly qualified and accomplished individuals, but collectively they suggest that Obama could be Clinton Revisited, rather than Change We Can Believe In. It will be interesting to see whether additional prospects add a more diverse and bipartisan flavor to the mix.

Posted by: ANetliner | November 5, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

How about Al Gore or T. Boone Pickens for the DOE?

Posted by: ConcernedinSC | November 5, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

This blog post is East-centric. But out West we're hugely concerned about EPA and Interior. Any potential nominees surfacing for those positions?

Posted by: leeanderson1 | November 5, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I heard Robert Kennedy Jr for EPA and Carolyn Schlossberg (Kennedy) Ambassador to UN Colin Powell as Education Secretary all sound good

Posted by: mikey30919 | November 5, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't be more thrilled that Sen. Obama won, but I'm not so thrilled about all these Clintonian names. We need some folks who know their way around town so we don't have a huge learning curve, but if we have another Sec. Summers (for example), bleh. Just too many way too familiar faces.

Posted by: enviro1 | November 5, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be cool if he asked McCain to head Veterans' Affairs?

Posted by: orthodoxheathen | November 5, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

So Obama is appointing a bunch of re-treads from the Clinton Administration, wow this is some real CHANGE. ha ha ha

Boddy Jindal - 2012!!

Posted by: Phil6 | November 5, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

HHS - Tom Dashle

Supreme Court - Hillary, especially if Ginsburg resigns.

Sec State - Wes Clark
Sec Commerce - Jack Welsh
EPA - RFK Jr (elevated to cabinet level)
Attorney General - Patrick Fitzgerald
Sec Labor - Bob Riech (or Treasury)
Amb UN - Chris Shays
Amb to Russia - Sarah Palin (just kidding)

Posted by: cyberfool | November 5, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

First: I voted for Obama thinking that, among other things, this would be a different kind of administration. I am already doubting that-his speech already portends things will take a lot of time, let's think about his potential following term. Secondly, what about a more diverse Cabinet, reaching across aisles and philosophies. That is what our Country is supposed to be about-diversity and listening to our fellow men and women.

Posted by: uwgmu | November 5, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

So The One plans a full Clinton restoration, just with him at the wheel and not Hillary. Snort. Big surprise - this is change you suckers voted for?? Seas rise, heavens part and....Chicago pols take control. Big whoop.
BTW - only one woman on the list and she is "on the list" because she is adding herself? I guess sexism is OK if you aren't white??
Larry Summers can explain to her that women are too dumb for science, maybe point her toward a book group.
HRC is 2012!

Posted by: OrlandoNan | November 5, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Heard from a very good source that Philadelphia's Judge Nelson Diaz is being strongly considered for Sec of HUD. He wuz President Clinton's General Counsel for HUD, knows the terrain, is brilliant and wood be a terrific choice.

Posted by: koufax | November 5, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse


You dare to advise Obama?

Ask your therapist what "malignant narcissism" means.

Go away. No one cares what creepy Caps Lock losers think. You and JakeD need to get together.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 5, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse


There may be additional value in the Obama win for a period of time.

Goodwill may mean a deeper well to borrow from to fix the economy.

Posted by: JamesRaider | November 5, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I think President-elect Obama would gain instant credibility of the military by selecting McCain for Sec. of Defense - plus it would be the truly "inclusive" gesture that would go very far in uniting the country.

Posted by: hokie86 | November 5, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

McCain was qualified to pick the wife of the "number one dude". He did it and that was that.

Gone to the dustbin of history with the party of bigots.

We don't want to unite with "the country" anymore than Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Rush, Hannity nor any of the rest of the party of bigots want to unite with America's leaders.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 5, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Notably absent from any of these positions is a woman. Women control 52% of the wealth of this country, and I find the exclusion of this group disappointing. Lip service to change, I see.

Obama's aspirations for his daughters must not be very high.

Posted by: ltm353 | November 5, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

to dibick99

You ASSume wrong so that makes you the nitwit, not me.

Why don't you address the message logically instead of spewing your stupid ad hominems and irrelevant BS about Dubya that has nothing to do with who Obama picks.

I don't care how much better Obama is than Dubya/dick. The fact is Rahm Emanual is a DINO-Fascist who thwarts the will of the people. He has no business working in the White House, let alone remaining a member of Congress.

He is a representative of big business and does not do what is right by the people.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | November 6, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

No, it would not be cool if he chose McCain to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Do you happen to know McCain's record on supporting Veterans issues. It is appalling.

Posted by: Watsonjj | November 6, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Same people, same ways. We voted for change and I hope new people. Just because someone did some good things in another administration does not make them a good match for change -- it makes them a comfortable selection. We need smart, innovative minds who are not afraid of trying something new, not something proven to work years ago or even today.

Posted by: 4c01 | November 6, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

I would like to know who are the possible women appointees for President elect Obama's staff. Any news on this? So far this is a little discouraging.

Posted by: janejaehning | November 6, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

So,it already looks like Messiah Barack
"Spread The Wealth" Hussein Obama and his
sidekick Loud Mouth Joe Biden are well on
the road already to replace George W Bush
and Draft Dodger Dickey Cheney as "The Worst President and Vice President in US
History" if this list of real losers and
Democrat Has Beens is best Obama and his
stooges can do! Obama & Biden an Already
Failed Presidency!

Posted by: Jan1977 | November 6, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

To all of you right-wing conservative nuts;Can you hear us now? We had eight years of the absolute worst administration in US history. You stole the last two elections,get over it. Reverting back to the Clinton years was a time of prosperity for ALL to share,not just the upper crust. He left a multi-billion dollar surplus that buffoon George quickly went through. We should appoint Bill Clinton as Secretary of State to mend all the international damage Bush has done.Then appoint an AG that will investigate and prosecute all of this criminal administration,including Iraq and the war-profiteering leeches attatched to Bushes' and Cheney's crooked hip. We're done sending other people's kids to fight your dumb-ass wars,you start it? You fight it.Or re-institute the draft. Colin Powell? Secrectary of Defense. I can't wait 'til he writes his book.

Posted by: walkman1956 | November 6, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the people who say that we voted for Obama in the primaries precisely because we DIDN'T want to see the next administration filled with Clinton folks. About the only Clinton person I want to see become secretary of anything is Bob Reich (Treasury this time, please) - definitely no anyone connected with Rubin, and I believe Summers had his hand in the bank deregulation mess, too.

Chris Shays would definitely top my list of Republicans for an Obama administration - maybe at EPA (he has the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters) or even DHS. The idea of giving McCain a role is double foolish: first, he opposed Obama's views on most major national security issues, but more importantly, he would be more useful to Obama in the Senate, rather than being replaced by a less moderate Republican.

It would be good if Obama pulled more people out of the private sector and academia: we are looking for new ideas and new ways of doing things, and you won't find them in a Clinton yearbook.

Posted by: dj333 | November 6, 2008 1:34 AM | Report abuse

"So,it already looks like Messiah Barack
"Spread The Wealth" Hussein Obama and his
sidekick Loud Mouth Joe Biden are well on
the road already to replace George W Bush
and Draft Dodger Dickey Cheney as "The Worst President and Vice President in US
History" if this list of real losers and
Democrat Has Beens is best Obama and his
stooges can do! Obama & Biden an Already
Failed Presidency!"


Words from a frustrated republican. I can understand your sense of loss. Nothing could be worse than GWB administration. Oh wait, a McCain-Palin team had the potential to be one. But the majority of the people were smart not to let one more failure. Better luck next time.

Posted by: sampath29 | November 6, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Some of you expect waaaaaay too much from Obama already. The reality of the situation is that he can't afford to experiment and take risky gambles with unknown and inexperienced talent. He's smart enough to realize that he himself doesn't have the experience. He needs people who've been there and executed successfully in the past - at least until things settle down. Maybe that's two years or the first term, but he needs people who are going to execute and do so with the wisdom of experience in this time of crisis.

Posted by: AlexKhander | November 6, 2008 4:26 AM | Report abuse

Yeah Morton Downey, Jr. sounds like a good pick. Is he still smoking a pack a day?

Posted by: blasmaic | November 6, 2008 4:30 AM | Report abuse

Although I was critical of some of Hillary Clinton's campaign tactics, she did improve in my estimations and I now think she would make an excellent replacement for Ms Rice.

She's resilient, tough yet able to be pragmatic whilst keeping her eye on the ball - correct me if I am wrong.

Yea - Obama needs to give her a foremost role in the new Whitehouse line-up.

I look forward to seeing what Obama decides.

Once again, I am still smiling over what was a spectacular and sensational win: to say the whole world was bathed in an amazingly warm glow of sheer satisfaction is an understatement.

His win and the departure of GW Bush has worked a profound cathartic purging of the American psyche. This is pivotal for the US citizen's self-worth and a re-invention of the sort of American confidence that needs restoration and healing. It is the kind of confidence that makes people from abroad admire and sometimes love US citizens. It is not arrogance or hubris, but a refreshing and engaging, enthused appetite for progress and diplomatic engagement of the positive kind.

At this new dawn Obama promises to renew the very fabric of America's standing on the world stage. We believe him. He appears to be competent and confident.

Obama, if you can change the world for the better - then we (all those with an interest in the future) are behind you all the way! :-)

God Bless America and the new Whitehouse team!

Posted by: Monsoon1 | November 6, 2008 4:55 AM | Report abuse

Hello, dear svreader! Are you now a rpomoter of universities people? These people with all theur grants have not solved main problems of our today's exiatence, and, certainly, never would. It is because there are nor real brains in universities. There are mainly people promoted by last two decades of joined dynasty. Youe alter ego-dummy mistress, and our current Bush's proteges are people, who ruined the country, and, unfortunately, people, who are now in all traditionally famous by their achievements places, are nothing and are able of nothing. That is the result of your (or your alter ego) governing. Say 'hello' to your alter ego-dummy.

Posted by: aepelbaum | November 6, 2008 5:24 AM | Report abuse

You mistress should finally learn where her place is. She was needed around sexually addicted Clinton. She was very useful there. Of course, Spitzer lost his governorship because of Ashley Dupre, and Clinton got elected president because of Jennifer Flowers. They are looking, by the way, very much alike, neglecting age differences, In 1992 Flowers was looking very similar to Dupre now. So, Clinton enjoyed his addiction thanks to Hillary. But this woman (Hillary) is not USEFUL for ANYTHING positive. So, shup up, shadow, and know your place!

Posted by: aepelbaum | November 6, 2008 5:32 AM | Report abuse

Here are a few of my picks for the administration. Secretary Of Defense - Wesley Clark Head Of The EPA - Al Gore or Robert Kennedy Jr Secretary Of State - Hillary Clinton Treasury Secretary - Warren Buffet Head Of Fema - How about someone we know cares about helping people Oprah winfrey Ambassador To The UN - Caroline Kennedy Attorney General - John Edwards or Robert Kennedy Jr National Security Advisor - Colin powell He did advise bush that going to Iraq was not smart to bad he didn't listen. Another good Secretary Of State might be Bill Richardson or if he were younger Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: derekrhall1 | November 6, 2008 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Wes Clark will not be confirmed. His ego nearly started World War III and will not get out of the Senate.

Posted by: idiparker | November 6, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

I doubt the Obama administration needs the help of old Clintonites.

Posted by: dunnhaupt | November 6, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

With regards to the comments addressing McCain for Sec. of Defense; I think P.(e)Obama is interested in uniting the country - gleaned from actually listening to him..."not a red America, not a blue America, but the United States of America, if you want to keep living with an attitude that it's an "us" v "them" that is your right; however, use the term "I" instead of "we"
As for a more conservative senator taking McCain's Senate seat, the govenor of Arizona is a Democrat, I don't think she would select a more conservative senator (or even a Republican Senator) - which even further bolsters McCain as a viable selection for Sec. of Defense (increasing the Democratic majority in the Senate) - This truly is more for my benefit than to continue a dialog - when it actually occurs, I can point out to my friends that I thought of it a long time ago, and then pull this up to show them!

Posted by: hokie86 | November 6, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

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