Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Treasury Secretary

The Contenders:

Larry Summers

Lawrence “Larry” Summers followed one of his mentors, Robert Rubin, as President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary.

He was born in 1954 in New Haven, Connecticut. His parents and an uncle were all noted economists, so you could say that he has it in his blood. He attended MIT and Harvard, where he earned Bachelors and Doctorate degrees in economics, respectively. He taught at both of his alma maters before moving to Washington to work on President Reagan’s economic staff.

Make no mistake, though. He is a democrat at heart. He worked on the Dukakis Presidential campaign in 1988. During the Clinton years, he served as Chief Economist at the World Bank, then Undersecretary and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury before becoming Treasury Secretary himself. After Clinton’s departure, Summers returned once again to Harvard, this time as its President.

His mentors include Martin Feldstein of Harvard, Robert Rubin, and Alan Greenspan.

While President of Harvard University, Mr. Summers made several remarks about affirmative action, the relative abilities of men and women in the sciences, and the tendency of liberal colleges at the time to divest from holdings in companies in Israel. He also had a long-standing feud with the liberal members of the campus. His comments and opinions so inflamed fury on the left that he was eventually forced to step down from his post as President. Many still hold a grudge against Summers for this ugly period of disagreement.

Larry Summers is a strong advocate for free trade and globalization. He is experienced, having held the post of Treasury Secretary before, and having an impeccable academic and career resume. He is reasonable and pragmatic, and appears to be loyal and honest to a fault.

MOCKBADOC feels that he would make an acceptable Treasury Secretary.


Sheila C. Bair

Sheila C. Bair is a 54-year-old Republican attorney specializing in Financial Regulatory Policy. She has taught this subject at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 2002. She is currently the Chairwoman of the FDIC. She was named the second most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine earlier this year.

Long before it was widely realized, Bair was sounding the alarm on the unthinkable lending practices of American banks stemming from the Clinton-era Community Reorganization Act, bank intimidation, and the irresponsibility of the now-seized IndyMac, FreddyMac and FannieMae.

The recent sinking of the American banking industry, however, has sucked down the good with the bad, and Bair’s critics allege that she was weak and inconsistent in the stabilization of some banks and not others.

Although a capable and intelligent pick, Sheila Bair seems an unlikely choice given recent events. Despite her blamelessness in the fiasco, the fact that she was at the helm as the ship capsized will likely ruin her chances. She also lacks the kind of experience she will likely need as Treasury Secretary in these highly-charged times. The new SecTreas will need to be tough, perhaps even mean, to drive us out of this mess, and Bair is untried so far as I can tell.

MOCKBADOC thinks there may be better choices for the job of Treasury Secretary.


Timothy Geithner

The odds-on favorite so far is 47-year-old New Yorker and international business expert Timothy Geithner. He is the current President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He holds degrees from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins, and has studied Asian culture and business and has lived and worked abroad for several years. He is the consummate financial industry insider, having worked at several high-profile firms and in government. He has worked in the International Affairs division of the Treasury Department, and was even named Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, a post in which he worked under both Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers (already mentioned).

He left U.S. Government when Clinton did, and spent his time at the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Fund.

Recently, as President of the New York Fed, his reputation was stained as a result of the collapse of the venerable Big Apple Financial firm Lehman Brothers and was intimately involved in the plan to bail out their rivals Bear Stearns and AIG.

It is unclear how Geithner could use his experience to chart a course out of our current mess. His history suggests a predisposition toward internationalism, which may actually undermine our efforts to stabilize our own economy. Like it or not, the international economy takes its lead from ours.

Still, he is young, energetic, and probably very attractive as a working partner to the equally young and untested Obama. He is definitely one to watch, but…

MOCKBADOC thinks Geithner lacks the gravitas to drive the bus during these troubled times.


Paul Volcker

The final name commonly mentioned for Treasury Secretary is Paul Volcker, the 81-year-old New Jersey native, considered the “elder statesman” candidate for the job. Mr. Volcker holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard, and the London School of Economics. He worked as an economist with the New York Fed and Chase Manhattan Bank before a brief stint with the U.S. Treasury Department as an analyst from 1962 to 1963. He returned to Chase Manhattan Bank only briefly before once again working for the Treasury Department, this time as the Undersecretary for International Monetary Affairs.

Volcker is a life-long Democrat, and was appointed by Jimmy Carter to head the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in 1979. He was reappointed by Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, under whom he served in this capacity nearly until the end of Reagan’s second term.

During his time at the Fed, Volcker was able to reduce inflation from a high of over 13% in 1981 to just over 3% in 1983. The aggressive actions taken by Mr. Volcker, including limiting the supply of money and largely abandoning the practice of targeted interest rates did have a flip side, however, and produced extremely high unemployment. This caused him to be subjected to very significant criticism.

Mr. Volcker left government in 1987, and lived relatively quietly, with the exception of his criticism of the son of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan after he discovered improper financial relations between Kojo Annan and a Swiss bank in his work as a special investigator into allegations of corruption in the world body.

While Volcker certainly has the experience and the pedigree to run the Department of the Treasury, one wonders whether this 81-year-old economic heavyweight may have fought his best fight in the early 1980s. If John McCain was too…er…”erratic” for the Presidency according to the Obama campaign, Volcker may suffer from the same malady.

MOCKBADOC thinks that Paul Volcker would make a superb advisor, perhaps even Chief Economic Advisor, but shouldn’t be named Treasury Secretary.


Final analysis and prediction:

While all four contenders have their strengths, two of them are felt to be hopelessly entangled in the sub-prime mortgage mess, and one seems to be in the Autumn of his career. Only one of the four has the pedigree, the temperament, the experience, and the guts to have a chance to get us out of this mess.

MOCKBADOC predicts that the Hope and Change Treasury Secretary will be Lawrence “Larry” Summers.

Secretary of Defense: Final Tally and Prediction

John Hamre may be the nicest guy in the world. He may also be an absolute cold-blooded killer in disguise who would strike terror in the hearts of our enemies and keep us safe. The problem is that we don't know. We need to know. More importantly, our enemies need to know. Bad choice.

Richard Danzig, on the other hand, has a different problem. He is a known quantity. As Secretary of the Navy, he showed himself to lack the spine for armed conflict - even for retaliation after an attack (e.g. USS Cole). This is sort of a problem for a Secretary of Defense. He would be like Secretary Cohen, Part Deaux. Again, bad choice.

The only logical choice is Senator Chuck Hagel. I know, I know. He's a Republican. But even ultra-partisan Obama knows that the last Democrat to even go so far as to see a war movie was probably LBJ. You want someone to coddle you? Look no further than the big blue donkey. But defense? It's just never been the Democrats' schtick. Leave that to the grownups. Like Hagel.

MOCKBADOC Prediction: Obama will shock the world with his apparent magnanimity and solidify his claim to "post-partisan" and beneficent rule by proclaiming...

The Hope and Change Secretary of Defense will be Nebraska Senator Charles "Chuck" Hagel.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #3:

John Hamre


John Hamre is a 58-year-old government insider. He graduated from Augustana College in North Dakota in 1972 with a degree in economics and political science. He then earned an MDiv from Harvard University and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University.

His work history pretty much begins and ends with government. After starting out in the Congressional Budget Office as an entry-level staffer, he rose quickly to the rank of Deputy Assistant Director by 1984. Until 1993, when he was named Comptroller for the Clinton Department of Defense, he worked in the Senate Armed Services Committee with responsibilities for oversight of R&D, budget, and relations issues.

In 1997, he was elevated to Deputy Defense Secretary under Clinton’s SecDef William S. Cohen.

Since G.W. Bush’s election in 2000, Hamre has busied himself as the President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a foreign policy “think tank” with a $20-million annual budget to spread around.


Who in the world knows? He is a shadow man. One can presume that he agreed, at least to some degree, with his boss William Cohen, who presided over the following:

  • Iraq - Failed to hold Saddam Hussein to UN mandates. Presided over containment efforts, including no-fly zones and mistargeted Tomahawk missile and air strikes with negligible effects.
  • Somalia - Peacekeeping and toothless efforts to relieve suffering and distribute food. Culminated in U.S. failure in “Blackhawk Down” incident and then shameful withdrawal.
  • Bosnia/Herzegovina - Containment of conflict to prevent widening of war. War widened, ultimately spawning Macedonian and Kosovo conflicts. Succeeded in helping the Muslim extremists to win.
  • Macedonia - Peacekeeping operation.
  • Kosovo - Air strikes and attempted containment.
  • Haiti - Peacekeeping mission until “democratically-elected” ruler could be re-installed.
  • Liberia – evacuation of Americans
  • Central African Republic – evacuation of Americans
  • Albania – evacuation of Americans
  • Congo & Gabon – evacuation of Americans
  • Sierra Leone – evacuation of Americans
  • Cambodia – evacuation of Americans
  • Guinea-Bissau – evacuation of Americans
  • Kenya and Tanzania – intelligence failure & U.S. attacked; American lives lost
  • Afghanistan and Sudan – tomahawk strikes with negligible effects
  • East Timor - peacekeeping
  • Yemen – intelligence failure, USS Cole attacked; American lives lost

Job Fitness:

Once again, who knows? The following do appear to be limitations on his fitness for such a serious job in such a serious time:

  1. He has no military experience
  2. His experience with the DoD has been mainly as a glorified accountant
  3. The only real example of leadership he ever had was William Cohen, arguably the least capable and weakest Secretary of Defense in recent American history.

Final Tally

MOCKBADOC believes that John Hamre is not a safe or appropriate choice for Secretary of Defense in these dangerous times. Perhaps after President Obama has placated all our enemies, but not now.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #2:

Richard Danzig

Richard Danzig is a 64-year-old attorney who previously served as Secretary of the Navy under President Bill Clinton.

Born in the Bronx, NYC, Danzig eventually attended Reed College and earned a law degree from Yale. He was also a Rhodes Scholar and holds a PhD from Oxford University. After law school, Mr. Danzig served as clerk to SCOTUS Justice Byron White.

Mr. Danzig was a professor of law at Stanford and Harvard before serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. After the election of Ronald Reagan, Danzig left government to practice law at Latham & Watkins, and also served as Vice Chairman of the International Human Rights Law Group, and Traveling Fellow of the Center for International Political Economy.

The election of Democrat Bill Clinton to President afforded Danzig another opportunity to serve in government. He worked as Undersecretary of the Navy from 1993 to 1997, and then was sworn in as the Secretary of the Navy in November of 1998.

Career Accomplishments:
Failed to hold Saddam Hussein to UN mandates. Presided over containment efforts, including no-fly zones and mistargeted Tomahawk missile and air strikes with negligible effects.

Peacekeeping and toothless efforts to relieve suffering and distribute food. Culminated in U.S. failure in “Blackhawk Down” incident and then shameful withdrawal.

Containment of conflict to prevent widening of war. War widened, ultimately spawning Macedonian and Kosovo conflicts. Succeeded in helping the Muslim extremists to win.

Macedonia - Peacekeeping operation.

Kosovo - Air strikes and attempted containment.

Haiti - Peacekeeping mission until “democratically-elected” ruler could be re-installed.

Liberia – evacuation of Americans

Central African Republic – evacuation of Americans

Albania – evacuation of Americans

Congo & Gabon – evacuation of Americans

Sierra Leone – evacuation of Americans

Cambodia – evacuation of Americans

Guinea-Bissau – evacuation of Americans

Kenya and Tanzania – intelligence failure & U.S. attacked; American lives lost

Afghanistan and Sudan – tomahawk strikes with negligible effects

East Timor - peacekeeping

Yemen – intelligence failure, USS Cole attacked; American lives lost

Seems to be to contain conflict if and only if a consensus and coalition can be reached and allies can be found to help. In all other cases, evacuate Americans and get out of the way of those who don’t like us.

Job Fitness:
As Undersecretary, then Secretary of the Navy, showed himself to be unprepared to provide any leadership or oversight to the military. Running at the first sign of danger is not a strategy.

MOCKBADOC’s Final Opinion:
This selection will undoubtedly embolden our enemies and put Americans at risk. Well, American civilians, that is.
The military that remains after the inevitable drastic DOD budget cuts, will be safely on base for at least four years.

MOCKBADOC believes that Richard Danzig would be a weak, do-nothing pushover as Secretary of Defense, just like he was as Secretary of the Navy.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of Defense

Contender #1:
Senator Charles ("Chuck") Hagel

Chuck Hagel is a 62-year-old Republican from Nebraska. He was raised in a middle class, Catholic, immigrant family. He attended parochial schools, then attended a communications school briefly after graduation from high school. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the peak of the Vietnam War, and served as an infantryman, earning the rank of sergeant (E5), the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Hagel returned from the war, and re-entered college, graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1972. He served as a Congressional staffer until 1977, then left to start a company, Vanguard Cellular. When Reagan won the Presidency in 1980, Hagel served briefly as a Deputy Administrator of Veteran’s Affairs. He resigned after about a year as a result of a disagreement with VA Administrator Robert Nimmo about the nature of the services that should be provided. Hagel was supportive of greater veteran’s benefits.

As founder of Vanguard Cellular, Hagel is a multi-millionaire. His Senate career began in 1996 during the Clinton administration.


Senator Hagel has supported the provisions of the Patriot Act, almost without exception. He wisely voted against implementing the partisan findings of the 9/11 Commission report. He also correctly recognized that the detainees at Guantanemo, as enemy combatants, are not eligible for and should not be extended Geneva Convention protections like habeas corpus. He also voted to protect the CIA from interference in their interrogations of detainees.

He has been a vocal supporter of the military, voting for their pay raise of 4.8% in 1999, and limiting their deployments to 12 months. He also voted wisely against prohibiting same-sex basic training, like that employed by the Marines. His support for the military found him at odds with some of his Republican colleagues, however, when it came to Iraq. He opposed Iraq as an unjust “war of choice – like Vietnam” from the beginning, and consistently accused the CIA of lying about intelligence that led the U.S. into war. He never saw Iraq as a legitimate threat, and was very vocal about that. He did, however, vote to authorize military force against Iraq in 2002, and has voted against timetables for withdrawal subsequently.

Ironically, he was supportive of air striking Kosovo during the Clinton years, an action that certainly could also be attacked on the basis of a similar “war of choice”.

Job Fitness:

Senator Hagel’s history suggests that he is (1) not afraid to use military force when necessary, but his experiences as an enlistedman in Vietnam have made him (2) appropriately cautious about sending troops into harm’s way. He is (3) a military and veteran’s advocate, a reputation he has continued to earn for years. He is (4) not afraid to take unpopular positions, even when it places him at odds with his own party.

As a (5) veteran, especially former enlisted, he would be (6) very respectable to the military. He is (7) tenacious, and believes that (8) once the military is employed, victory must be the outcome.

It is the opinion of MOCKBADOC that he would make a good Secretary of Defense.

Secretary of State: Final Tally and Prediction

It seems very unlikely, especially after the choice of the hyper-partisan Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff, that Obama would pick a Republican (especially a flag-waving one) as Secretary of State. I think Senator Lugar can safely presume that he will remain a Senator.

John Kerry would definitely be the "lightning-rod" selection. He has made an entire career out of making bad decisions about foreign policy, and would likely be a disastrous choice for Secretary of State. He is, however, second only to Obama himself in his liberalism, and rewarding Kerry for a lifetime of service to Communist ideology by awarding him the highest office in the Cabinet might be too attractive for Obama to resist.

The most likely choice, in my opinion, and probably a decent one, given his qualifications, experience, and natural talents, is Bill Richardson. Richardson can at least be to
lerated, and may actually turn out to do a pretty good job. Fair warning, though, Governor: follow the Constitution, or prepare to experience the wrath of MOCKBADOC.

MOCKBADOC Predicts that the Hope and Change Secretary of State will be New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

The Hope and Change Cabinet: Secretary of State

Contender #3: Senator Richard Lugar


Senator Richard Lugar is a 76-year-old Republican from Indiana. He was raised on a farm and went to public school. He was an Eagle Scout. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He then served in the U.S. Navy from 1957-1960 as an intelligence officer. His entry into politics was on his local school board. He was mayor of Indianapolis for two terms. He has been a U.S. Senator since 1977.

Career Highlights

  • Working to reduce world stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons
  • Working to devolve federal powers back to the states
  • Working to end farm production controls
  • Working to reform the food stamp program



  • Opposes Partial-birth abortions
  • Supports experimentation on human embryos
  • Voted against a ban on human cloning


  • First supported hate crimes legislation for sexual orientation, then voted against it.
  • Supported increased wire-tapping authority
  • Property
  • Opposes unfair punitive taxation

Bill of Rights

Amendment 1:

  • Supports right to pray voluntarily in school
  • Voted to expand government wiretapping and domestic surveillance
  • Voted against recording phone conversations by employers

Amendment 2:

  • Supports almost without exception

Amendment 4:

  • Voted for Patriot Act

Amendment 5:

  • Voted for increased wiretapping/domestic surveillance
  • Silent on Kelo decision

Amendment 9:

  • Mixed record on awarding special rights to minorities and special interest groups

Amendment 10:

  • Supports devolution of powers to the States

Qualifications for Job

Closeness to President? NO

Has an almost opposite voting record from Obama.

Effective communication with diverse audiences? NO

Seems to be more of the quiet type – rarely ruffles feathers.

Appropriate face of American foreign policy? YES

Senator Lugar seems to be a reasonable man who supports American values.

Aggressively pursues American interests? YES

Senator Lugar has voted relatively consistently to support the Bill of Rights, and the principles of Life, Liberty, and Property.

Final Score:

Would probably make a good Secretary of State, but I find it almost unthinkable that President-elect Obama would name him. Their views on the world seem to be about as close to opposite as you can get. About the only thing alike between the two of them is that they have both been Senators.

A Prayer for Veterans

First of all, allow me to wish you all a very happy Veterans' Day. I've always found the history of this particular holiday to be sort of interesting.

It was the end of World War I. The carnage on all sides had been unimaginable. It has been said that WWI wiped out an entire generation of European men, and for this reason (among others), it was sometimes called "The War to end all Wars". Officers from both sides met to discuss ending the conflict. They decided, in a flurry of poeticism, that the armistice should take effect "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1919 - a reference to "the 11th hour" term which is used to describe something that happens right at the last moment.

This day was remembered as early as the next day, when President Woodrow Wilson declared that "Armistice" Day should be remembered on 12 November each year.

In the early 1950s, shorty after the Second World War, there was a movement to expand the holiday to include all veterans, not just those who served in WWI. This caught on, and Veterans Day in its present form was born.

We veterans these days are an odd bunch. It is unlike years past when the vast majority of American families had a veteran among them. Now our numbers are dwindling. Relatively few families really understand the sacrifice made by those who wear the country's uniform. This is tragic. It leads to decision-making that fails to factor in what is best for the military, and by extension, best for our security as a nation.

I'm not saying that because I am a veteran I should have special privileges. The fact that I and others served ensures that all Americans have equal privileges. Instead, I am filled with a special pride and honor. And I feel that I have definitely earned my right to have an opinion, whether or not it is agreeable to people.

We veterans are small in number. This is why we must be large in voice. We have a special responsibility to share what we know to be true about the world - that there will always be bad people who desire our destruction. That wars, although a horrible thing, will likely always be necessary to confront and defeat those people. That diplomacy would be great - if it worked to secure our liberty the way military might does.

Today I pray earnestly for the safety of our men and women in uniform. I pray for all those who have ever answered their country's call to service. I pray that we will all continue to do what we swore to do, years ago in some MEPS Station, to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic".

This is our duty, my fellow Veterans. Our country needs our voice again. Our country calls. May God give us the strength and will to answer.