President Obama this week nominated experienced close associates to fill three major cabinet posts.
In a ceremony Jan. 7, the president introduced former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as his choice for defense secretary. The president picked as CIA director John Brennan, currently the deputy national security advisor. Shown in the White House photo at left, are (from left to right, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Hagel, the president, and Brennan.
Separately, Obama picked White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, right, to become Treasury Secretary, succeeding Timothy Geithner.
Each of the nominations is expected to pass, albeit with objection primarily from Republicans. Neo conservatives fear that that Hagel, a Republican and Vietnam War vet who supported Obama in 2008, does not support current and future Mideast wars with sufficient groundtroop commitments. Less publicly, some suspect that Brennan, a CIA officer and executive most of his career except during the 2008 period, used underhanded tactics during the 2008 campaign to help Obama.
Lew, another career government official aside from a lucrative period managing hedge funds on Wall Street, is feared by conservatives as too progressive and by progressives as advocating policies too supportive of financial titans. Lew has fought Republicans on occasion in budget battles. He earned a $950,000 bonus in 2009 for work with Citibank, which suggests yet another example of the revolving door between government and private sectors.
After Obama's failed experiment of trying to work with Petraeus during the first term as CIA director, he emphasized loyalty along with experience in several of remaining high-profile cabinet nominations. Thus, he retained Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Their retention also prevented contentious confirmation hearings and maintained a diversity level reduced in top posts. The Washington Post emphasized these themes in a front page article in its Jan. 11 print edition, A team of rivals to a band of brothers. Also, it published an overall chart: Who's in, Who's Out.