If various rumors turn into the truth, President Obama will have some credible anchors within his new Cabinet.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is certainly qualified to be secretary of state. You can disagree with him on policy, or totally disapprove of his politics (as I do), but the man has stature.
I was worried that after Hillary Clinton, there would be a stature gap at the State Department, but Kerry is considered a thoughtful adult on the world stage. If the question is whether the nominee to be secretary of state has credibility, a serious approach and sufficient experience, there is no reason for Republicans to vote against Kerry. We had an election that resolved who got to do the appointing.
Former sen. Chuck Hagel is another a credible, serious, big-time figure, who may be appointed as secretary of defense. Again, after Bob Gates and Leon Panetta, he would have some big shoes to fill. Hagel is independent, and perhaps President Obama will decide that he could be independent to a fault — but there is no question that Hagel is qualified.
If President Obama could somehow convince Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan Chase, to be Treasury secretary in 2013, the appointment would have a considerable “wow factor.” Dimon’s appointment would undoubtedly give the markets a boost, provide important insight into Obama’s policies and approach on the overall economy and the appointment would be reassuring to business leaders everywhere.
Obama’s Cabinet has, up to this point, mostly been layered with staff and czars. We will see if he attempts a second-term upgrade with these and other appointments. Each of the men mentioned above are accustomed to having staffs and won’t be intimidated by their own bureaucracies, or by anyone else’s staff. This trio would send an important signal, but there would still be work to be done. Hopefully the president will empower his Cabinet and not try to run things by delegating real authority to lesser-equipped staff members.