A Longer Race to Run

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By Paul C. Light
Special to the Washington Post
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; 12:00 AM

President-elect Barack Obama is within days of completing his cabinet appointments. Although criticism persists about the appropriate number of women, southerners, Latinos, Ivy Leaguers and Clintonites, Obama is on course to finish his cabinet appointment process in record time.

Starting fast is definitely a help in shaping the Obama agenda┬┐confirmation hearings will be underway soon, most of Obama's cabinet will be confirmed on Inauguration Day, and the stimulus package will be ready to go. Attorney General-designate Eric Holder may be a little late due to his murky role in former President Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, and he may yet be the target of a Republican hold that might provoke the first cloture vote in the new Senate. But Obama's record will still stand.

Obama is almost certainly going to set a second record, this one for the number of nominees for lower appointees submitted in the first ten days of his administration, and possibly in his first 100 days. George W. Bush will be hard to beat┬┐he owns the record for nominations submitted to Congress in the first 100 days. But Obama's team is already hard at work lining up names for deputy secretaries, under secretaries, assistant secretaries and administrators.

However, Obama is only at the beginning of the race. Fifteen cabinet appointments do not a government make. Records may fall, but this is a marathon, not a-100 meter sprint.


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