A “White House official” set off a bit of consternation — okay, maybe panic — in a number of agencies Wednesday when he (or she) apparently confirmed that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki were staying.
Some of “The Unlisted,” such as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, were almost certainly staying, sources said. But others, such as Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, were seen as possible departures. The rest were somewhere in between.
Lahood, though highly regarded by President Obama, indicated in 2011 that he was leaving at the end of the first term, but then seemed to walk that back, most recently saying he and Obama needed to chat. (Which still sounds like he’s edging out.)
There are a fair number of names being heard as possible replacements, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is seen as quite knowledgeable on transit matters.
One tiny problem appears to have surfaced, however, in the form of a Los Angeles Times story Wednesday and a picture that actor Charlie Sheen, former star of “Two and a Half Men,” tweeted showing him with his arm around Villaraigosa last month at the opening of Sheen’s bar in Baja California, Mexico. The mayor “knows how to party,” Sheen said.
Villaraigosa said he had been there only a few minutes, but Sheen countered this week that it was more like a couple hours in his hotel suite surrounded by a number of beautiful women.
Sheen apologized and noted many other people were there, and said he was trying to make a joke.
This sounds like much ado about very little — Sheen’s relationship to matters of space and time can seem to be a bit distant these days — but it’s not the kind of news the White House wants to read.
Another name mentioned for the Transportation job is former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a major figure in Democratic politics for years. His closeness to Obama, however, has been in doubt.
National Transportation and Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman also looks to be in the mix. Hersman, a former Senate aide, is in her second five-year term at the NTSB. She was appointed to the board by President Bush and then re-appointed by Obama, who named her chairman.