The Post reports: “In the spring of 2011, Timothy Geithner wanted to leave his job. The Treasury secretary’s family was moving to New York for his son’s senior year in high school, and the commute to see them each weekend was sure to be arduous. Who could do his job? Geithner’s answer was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Well I’m not sure she could have done any worse at Treasury than at State. But it is a timely reminder that with a president comes a flock of appointees and advisers whose views, competence and judgment will help determine the success of an administration.
So who might Mitt Romney bring along to top positions? Based on his current stable of advisers and his stated views and objectives we can offer some educated guesses (and suggestions).
On the economic side, Glenn Hubbard, the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, has advised Romney in two successive presidential campaigns. Hi views on tax cuts and regulation line up with Romney’s. He certainly would be a top contender for Treasury secretary
Also on the domestic side, Romney, if he is serious about a reform agenda based on market principles, could hardly do better than two current governors, Indiana’s Mitch Daniels (whose term ends this year) and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who has impressed conservatives with his education reforms. Either could bring considerable talents to education, health care and overall fiscal reform. (Daniels served as head of the Office of Management and Budget.) If he is not the VP (thus disappointing many conservatives), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is the natural choice for OMB or a top domestic policy slot. In addition, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office and a respected policy wonk (and critic of Obamacare), is a prime candidate for Health and Human Services, the Council of Economic Advisors or domestic policy advisor.
As for attorney general, conservatives are blessed with an array of qualified choices (e.g. Obamacare litigant and conservative rock star Paul Clement, Ted Olson, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell).
On the foreign policy side, things get a bit trickier. Those involved with the pre-surge Iraq operation are not likely to be favored. Many but not all of the Bush-era advisers (e.g. Condi Rice) are nonstarters with conservatives and/or are identified with failed policies (e.g. courting Russia, negotiating with North Korea).
But fortunately for Romney, there are talented and experienced candidates who are leaving the U.S. Senate. At State or Defense, either Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) or Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would be on the short list. Both are in sync with Romney on many issues and would be confirmed with ease. Both have been intimately involved with nearly every foreign policy issue in recent years. Former senator Jim Talent (R-Mo.) has been advising the Romney campaign and is also likely to snag a post.
Then there is former U.N. ambassador John Bolton who was an early endorser of Romney and has ably served as both a surrogate and adviser. He’s as beloved on the right as he is controversial on the left, and the notion of him doing battle with the striped pants boys at Foggy Bottom is almost too delicious to contemplate. If Romney wants a straight-talking and at times refreshingly undiplomatic figure, Bolton could find a place at the National Security Council or State.
Other top contenders for NSC would surely be Eliot Cohen, who is credited with pulling together the impressive foreign policy white paper for the Romney team (and has both government and academic qualifications) and former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, whose dissenting voice in the Bush administration on a number of issues (e.g. the bombing of Syria’s nuclear facility) in retrospect has proved wiser than some of the more senior Bush personnel. But then again, especially given his experience and close relationship with Israeli officials (whose nation is a constant target of an ongoing delegitimization effort), Abrams, in the tradition of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, would be ideal for the United Nations.