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I can assure you, Mr. President-elect, that nobody named Baird was ever in my cabinet


 

President-elect Barack Obama is strongly considering Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a Cabinet post, Democratic officials told Politico.


 

I can assure you, Mr. President-elect, that nobody named Baird was ever in my cabinet

  1. Now, this is interesting, isn’t it? Let me see, I remember reading somewhere his views on “intensity-based-caps”. They would seem to be somewhat at odds with the Harper/Prentice vision.

  2. I wonder what TMZ.com or Entertainment Tonight has to say about cabinet stars less than 24 hrs after Obama’s win.

  3. Scratch that, that was Gore – not Kennedy Jr.

  4. I really wish I’d plunked down the cash to hear him when he was in Waterloo a few weeks ago.

  5. I know it would never (ever) happen, but if Obama wanted to establish himself as a true post-partisan unifier he could always reach waaaaaaay across the aisle and give a Cabinet post to… John McCain!

    I can almost imagine the sound of exploding heads from on all over the politcal spectrum…

  6. RFK Jr, noted stolen election conspiracy nut and opponent of wind farms near the family estate? I know nothing about the guy, but I just gave you the sound bites for the confirmation hearings. He’s going to get Borked.

  7. Andrew E- the Senate will be controlled by the Democrats. RFK, or any Obama nominee, will sail through.

    PAUL – have you noticed any coverage of Harper actually SPEAKING to Obama yet? I know there was a press release (http://www.thestar.com/business/article/530836) but it does not say they spoke. Do you know if they have?

  8. Anon, not unless they can muster 60 votes. John Bolton was never confirmed by the Republican-controlled senate for that reason. Right now the D’s have 56, and three of the four undecided races look to break for the R’s.

  9. La Presse says tonight that Harper “should be able to speak aloud (i.e. over the phone) with the president-elect soon” so that as of the reporter’s deadline this afternoon, they hadn’t spoken.

    I should point out — have been meaning to do so in a blog posting, in fact — that for more than a week we’ve been getting brief three- or four-paragraph summaries of each of Harper’s telephone conversations with foreign leaders emailed to us within hours after the conversation. This is new, not only since Harper became PM but it’s the first time in my (sigh) 14 years in Ottawa that this sort of information has been routinely provided. And it’s welcome. When Harper does speak to Obama (even though Obama won’t be president until Jan. 20) I expect we’ll get such a summary promptly.

  10. ‘Course, depends on whether Obama is willing to answer…

    Austin

  11. I find it hard to believe that Kennedy would be considered. Although, personally, I would like to see it.

    I think he would be a little too hard-nosed for what I see as being a cautious, consensus-building
    administration.

  12. Yeah, Andrew, there’s no better strategy for the Republicans in the Senate than pointless obstructionism of Presidential appointees. That’s been McConnell’s idiotic strategy since 2006, and he’s been handsomely rewarded for it with a loss of (at least 6, and perhaps as many as 9) seats. Though, in truth, they main gain one back when Lieberman gets turfed.

    My guess, given the outcome of the election, is that the Republican leadership knows they don’t have the slightest mandate for a pushback on any Presidential appointees. So it’ll be mouths shut, heads down, and raise your hands for whomever Pres. Obama nominates.

  13. gentry, McConnell and the current president are on the same side. How is he obstructing presidential appointees?

    Appointing RFK Jr to the EPA would be a big, fat F.U. to the republicans. If they were smart, they would continue their campaign rhetoric and use the appointment to paint Obama as a partisan crypto-socialist, in spite of his “uniter” lines. It would probably work, and score an early victory for the currently demoralized R’s.

    I’m also hoping Obama is smart enough to appoint someone with bipartisan appeal to the EPA. Climate change is a file that everyone needs to get behind.

  14. Why, when Obama has succeeded, does everyone say he has to kowtow to the Republicans? He won because he ran in opposition to everything that the current Republicans stood for. If they obstruct and paint him as a crypto-Socialist, he will fire back with lines about how the Republicans refuse to listen to the American people who elected him because he stands for change.

    Just wait until Breyer, Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg all retire from the Supreme Court. Theconservatives had better pray that nothing happens to Scalia or Kennedy in the next 4-8 years, or there will be a majority of liberal Justices all in their 50’s…

  15. Chris B, for one thing, 47% of Americans didn’t vote for him, and many of the pickups in the House and Senate were by narrow margins. For another, his “change” campaign was all about uniting Americans, so to turn around and appoint someone highly divisive to an important cabinet post would expose his campaign as empty rhetoric, not to mention playing into the Republican narrative. For a third, why would you want someone partisan at the EPA, when what is really needed is a broad national consensus about climate change?

  16. I think Kennedy would be a disaster for them and for us and would confirm some of the worst fears about Obama.

  17. Andrew, re: McConnell, I was obviously talking about him obstructing the majority agenda which he’s been doing for the past couple of years.

    Appointing RFK to the EPA *would* be a big fat FU to the Republicans indeed. But that’s a predictable consequence of boorish Republican behaviour when they were calling the shots. During 00-06, the GOP didn’t cooperate in the least, nominated grossly incompetent boobs like Bolton and Alito, and *now* you’re talking about the need for bipartisan appointments?

  18. “Chris B, for one thing, 47% of Americans didn’t vote for him, and many of the pickups in the House and Senate were by narrow margins.”

    LMAO, you gotta be kiddin’ me right? He’s won by a much larger margin than Bush, who headed the *least* bipartisan administration in US history.

    Margins? You can’t be serious.

    Here’s a newsflash: there *is* a national consensus. The nation agrees with the Democratic party – this is why they elected a Democrat president, and given unprecedented majorities to the Democrats in both chambers of Congress.

    As I said above, the job of the GOP in the next couple of years will be to keep their mouths shut while someone fixes the mess they’ve left the country and the world in.

  19. “Appointing RFK to the EPA *would* be a big fat FU to the Republicans indeed. But that’s a predictable consequence of boorish Republican behaviour when they were calling the shots. During 00-06, the GOP didn’t cooperate in the least, nominated grossly incompetent boobs like Bolton and Alito, and *now* you’re talking about the need for bipartisan appointments?”

    So, Gentry, if I understand you correctly, the solution to a horribly dysfunctional and divisive Republican administration is a Democrat one that is equally divisive?

    The optimistic idea here is that Obama isn’t going to use Bush-style tactics to run his administration; a good leader, Republican or Democrat, needs to be able to reach the moderates on the other side of the party divide. Bush was a miserable failure at this, and we should all sincerely hope that Obama takes a less partisan, more intelligent path.

    On the other hand, he is a politician, and it remains to be seen if he’ll respond to boorish behaviour with boorish behaviour – the smart money’s probably on yes.

    Much like when Harper replaced Martin in the PMO – the same tactics that had me disgusted with Martin’s govt. have been trotted out with alarming regularity.

  20. Jonathan, it’s not a question about being divisive. It’s about why, after 8 years of not being consulted on, for example, judicial nominees, should the Democrats be eager to have their nominees vetted by the Republican party. Especially considering that the voters have spoken quite clearly.

    In the particular example, RFK Jr is by leaps and bounds more qualified to run the EPA than Alito is to serve on the Supreme Court, so I wouldn’t be so eager to draw an exact parallel there either.

  21. Gentry – I have to admit that I’m a little shy on knowledge of RFK Jr., but if he’s as polemic a choice as he sounds, it would probably be a mistake to appoint him. Obama should be eager to make inroads with moderate Republicans, because at some point in the next 4 (8?) years, he’s going to need them.

    Obviously, he shouldn’t let them control the agenda, but finding candidates that Obama likes and his party will endorse who are also (in general) attractive to certain Republicans seems like a far more sensible idea than finding people who are going to create unneccessary friction between the two parties.

    Take Harper on Afghanistan – having John Manley as a prominent member of the panel was a master-stroke (even if he’s since reversed course on the panel’s findings), and by negotiating with Dion and Co., he was able to take it off the agenda for an election – when it was one of the very few wedge issues the Liberals could have gone at him with and had a good chance of success. I’d also say he managed to advance one of his cornerstone issues, if he hadn’t pledged to abandon the war during the election. Still, whatever Harper’s reversals, reaching across party lines was a brilliant step in implementing unpopular policy with the help of his chief rivals.

    Obama will have a much easier time of things if he can maneuver some Republicans on to the same side of policy/appointment issues, than if he doesn’t.

  22. Robert Kennedy Junior made a fascinating speech at the World Forest Forum in Winnipeg circa 1998 essentially reminding Canadians that we share the same legal heritage in British common law, and that we could be more active in seeking legal remedies where our governments (provincial mostly) fail to fulfill their constitutional responsibility for protecting rivers, forests, etc.

    He said that the the basis of the Hudson River Keeper’s quarter century, successful battle to restore the Hudson River in New York, was not environmental standards or stronger legislation in the U.S. but the Magna Carta. I’m paraphrasing a bit but I still remember something he said: “The king doesn’t own the river, the church doesn’t own the river and the Lord Mayor doesn’t own the river because WE own the river.”

    Canadians who accept crown ownership (and neglect) too willingly, would do well to reflect on the implications of that statement.

  23. “if he’s as polemic a choice as he sounds”

    Huh? Because of the flippant comment of the guy above?

    Come on, the guy is a highly respected environmental lawyer, he used to be an assistant DA, and he’s a freakin’ Kennedy.

    I think you will see the type of bipartisan appointments, specifically for Defense (Gates). But, hey, let’s not forget who won the election. I don’t think Obama has a mandate to put in more than one or two Republicans in key posts, and even then in a transitional capacity.

  24. Gentry – There’s also the rumour of Powell being appointed somewhere, which would be an excellent move in my mind. I’ve been doing a little bit of reading on Kennedy, and there are a few points that stand out:

    – Convicted of heroin possession at age 30 (25 years ago)
    – Backed Hillary Clinton for President

    I’m not sure how much impact the drug conviction would have on his popularity (it means more to me than it probably does to the majority) but the fact that he endorsed Clinton makes him a more attractive candidate from a party unity perspective.

    As for being a polemic choice, I was mostly thinking of your statement actually – “Appointing RFK to the EPA *would* be a big fat FU to the Republicans indeed.”

    I’ll admit that 10 minutes of Wikipdia/Google doesn’t remotely qualify me to say if he’s a terribly controversial choice.

  25. Jonathan, the FU comment was maybe me overreacting. I doubt you’ll see anything so knee-jerk from Obama.

    But I have been kind of amused (and annoyed) by some of the Republican reactions. Obama has to govern from the centre? The US is still a centre-right country? He’s gotta make sure his nominees are bipartisan so as to avoid them being filibustered in the Senate?

    Give me a freakin’ break, it’s like they didn’t check the results.

  26. All this prattle about attracting Republicans misses something: he needs to keep his base, too. The hardcore on-the-ground activists had a lot to do with his success–he couldn’t have won the caucuses without them, for example–and he already faces the specter of their widespread disappointment when he doesn’t give them everything they want.

    The Republicans were rejected. Two elections in a row, with a third being quite likely in two years. He should reach out to those moderates who voted for the Republicans, but he needs to remember just whose ideology was rejected. It wasn’t the Dems.

  27. (Gentry, the Powers-That-Be in America still call it a center-right country because the guys with the bully pulpits are fairly right wing. NewsCorp, GE, Disney et al aren’t known for being frothing liberals, and they still set the media agenda, just as the various monied think-tanks set the Washington agenda. They have to acknowledge that trying to claim that it’s a “conservative country” wouldn’t fly, but they can still try “center-right”.)

  28. “All this prattle about attracting Republicans misses something: he needs to keep his base, too… He should reach out to those moderates who voted for the Republicans, but he needs to remember just whose ideology was rejected. It wasn’t the Dems.”

    But what constitutes Obama’a base? Certainly the hard-left types are a big part of it, but Obama knows they aren’t going to vote Republican anyway. Consider that in California, those who voted for Obama were split on the gay marriage bill, which failed – it’s even possible that without the surge of Obama supporters voting, the bill would have passed.

    Obama has widespread appeal, and he needs to confirm that, not drop it. The folks in the centre aren’t embracing the left-wing side of the Democrat party; they’re rejecting the Republicans hard-right. Votes, and public opinion, tend to be lumped in the middle, which is the biggest reason the Liberals have been so successful for so long.

    To draw two Canadian parallels:

    – Harper hasn’t ushered in policies with a ton of appeal to the right-wing of his own party; he’s gone to the political centre, slowly but surely (clearing away issues like opposition to gay marriage and abortion), but he hasn’t lost his base, because his base has nowhere to go.
    – The Liberals, under Martin/Dion, moved left to take votes from the NDP; in so doing, they allowed Harper to move to the centre with little contest.

    In other words, Obama can move left, and make it work for a while, but if he doesn’t hug the centre, he will eventually lose the widespread support that brought him in to power. For the long-term good of his presidency and his party, he needs to gradually shift the political centre to the left, as Harper has done in Canada to the right. If he can do it without the vicious partisanship of Harper’s government, so much the better.

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