Next president needs a bipartisan cabinet

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Sen. Barack Obama says he will work to create an atmosphere of post-partisanship in Washington, D.C. as president. If he is serious about such a goal, he must realize that this means inviting several Republicans to serve as members of his cabinet.

Recent presidents have invited one member of the opposite party to their cabinet. George W. Bush asked California Democratic congressman Norman Mineta to serve as transportation secretary. Bill Clinton asked Republican Sen. William Cohen of Maine to serve as defense secretary.

IF ELECTED president, Sen. Obama should say that -- rather than following in these footsteps -- he will appoint centrist Republicans with genuine policy ideas and experience in a bipartisan fashion to his cabinet. Contenders would include Republicans such as Maine Sen. Susan Collins for homeland security secretary, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar for secretary of state, and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter for attorney general.

Sen. Obama recognizes that Democratic governors of "red states" such as Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine are possible contenders for vice president or cabinet members. But he has not yet embraced the idea that changing the atmosphere in our nation's capital means real consideration of centrist Republicans and Democrats for key positions. Some such Democrats -- former Sens. David Boren and Sam Nunn -- have already joined the Obama team to consult on national security issues.

GOVERNING, OF course, is different from campaigning. And most solutions to America's biggest problems -- especially in areas as homeland security, foreign policy, immigration, and trade policy -- must incorporate the best ideas from both parties. Sen. Obama already has talked of closing the revolving door of government regulators and lobbyists and preventing executive departments from being filled with persons whose qualifications are based on their partisan affiliation. But an announcement of serious consideration of Republicans for his cabinet would allow Sen. Obama, a candidate who points toward post-partisanship but whose record on bipartisanship is sometimes lacking, to send the strongest signal that he really intends to change American politics if elected.

Sen. John McCain has a long record of working across the aisle in the Senate. Therefore, he might counter such an Obama assertion with his own list of centrist Democrats as possibilities for cabinet appointments such as Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, South Carolina Rep. John Spratt, or former Sens. John Breaux, Bob Graham and Gary Hart.

SURELY THE largest lesson from the current administration is that our national interests and American stability are harmed when the president is surrounded by persons from one area of his political party (all of whom share the same perspective) and dissenting voices are prematurely silenced. The presidency is a job with difficult decisions to be made each day. Knowledgeable experts with a willingness to engage in real debate must be invited to help our next president, Democrat or Republican, try to resolve our biggest troubles.

If Americans are lucky, both parties' presidential nominees may end up with the same names of good possibilities, many of which attended a centrist gathering in Oklahoma earlier this year. Sen. Obama -- and Sen. McCain -- should send the signal that a new administration will welcome members of the opposite party in solving issues in domestic and foreign policy.

(The writer is assistant professor of political science at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.)

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stadry
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stadry 08/02/08 - 05:17 am
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this is sophomoric -

this is sophomoric - expecting those of different political philosophies to pursue the same goal on the same side of the aisle,,, if nothing else should be remembered, its all politics,,, ' centrist ' has never been an accomplishment of either party,,, neither minetta nor cohen served w/noticeable distinction yet the writer chooses to highlight that magnanimous ' crossing of the aisle ' as seminal to his theory,,, what's next, mcCain/lieberman ??? let's hope mr. mcMillen fails to gain full professorial tenure, reapplies for his phd, & has to earn his living in the real world rather'n the sanctuary halls of academia,,, wishing never serves 1 well when facing reality.

I4PUTT
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I4PUTT 08/02/08 - 06:53 am
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I think every president

I think every president should surround himself with whom he believes to be the best people for the job. One would like to think that this would be done regardless of party, but it ain't. It's not likely to ever happen as long as the Republican party believes itself to be 100% correct about everything while the Democrats are perceived by them to be 100% wrong. Our country is split about 50/50 along party lines. There are many much important traits a president should be seeking in his appointees than party affiliation but the truth is our system is based on the favor game. I do you favors and you owe me down the road.

mgroothand
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mgroothand 08/02/08 - 10:08 am
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Ironically Mr. McMillan

Ironically Mr. McMillan mentions many qualified people from both sides to fill important positions while the wanna-be President has no experience doing anything. But, the Dalie Bama reads a mean teleprompter!

LaTwon
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LaTwon 08/02/08 - 11:02 am
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the president should be

the president should be surrounded by the constitution. this would mean getting rid of social security, medicare, medicaid,
no child left behind, farm subsidies, corporate subsidies. nation building, shut down the empire, get rid of the federal reserve, quit "managing" the economy, no welfare, food stamps, foreign aid, or whatever some crook wants to buy from a crooked politico. it will happen either thru financial collapse or revolution
but it will happen. the police state is getting out of control.
what constitution? right to be secure in your papers and property?
http://www.switched.com/2008/08/01/u-s-authorities-can-now-seize-laptops...

dani
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dani 08/02/08 - 11:56 am
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I hope Mr McMillan is not

I hope Mr McMillan is not holding his breath.

Former Augustan
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Former Augustan 08/02/08 - 12:32 pm
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What really needs to be done

What really needs to be done is to utilize the experience and talents of the top-level civil service managers and executives in the various departments to lead those departments. Since the head of government departments are almost political selectees, these people -- outstanding in their fields -- never get a chance because it's illegal to get involved in the politics because of the Hatch Act. So, they keep plodding along, correcting the mistakes of the political appointees at the top, and never really receiving the recognition they deserve. Yes, there are exceptions -- i.e., Colin Powell and a few others -- but by and large, the system keeps these folks from making it into the "big leagues." Sad for them and for our country, because political hacks and lobbyists get the jobs . . . .

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 08/02/08 - 03:20 pm
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sophomoric.....good call

sophomoric.....good call stadry

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