Election 2008

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President-elect Barack Obama, far right, announces his national security team, which
includes Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, left, and Secretary of State-designate Hillary

It’s Official: Obama Announces Clinton, Gates and Other Cabinet Picks

December 01, 2008 12:02 PM
by Josh Katz
Barack Obama formally declared a number of his cabinet selections at a news conference today, tapping Clinton for State and keeping Gates at Defense.

Obama Unveils Cabinet Secretaries

President-elect Barack Obama formally announced the members of his national security and foreign policy teams Monday morning. Sources had already leaked the names, but the Obama’s transition team wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving to publicize the news. Obama today chose N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Jones as White House national security adviser, Eric Holder as attorney general, Ariz. Gov. Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security and Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.

“The time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century,” Obama said, with his appointees standing behind him, according to the Associated Press. “We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”

The Boston Globe also quotes Obama as saying, “The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that. … They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.”

Background: Clinton highly vetted before appointment

On Nov. 21, sources revealed that Hillary Clinton had accepted the offer to be President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state, according to The New York Times Caucus Blog.
The Obama campaign supposedly carefully vetted Clinton, and dealt with issues that could arise from former President Bill Clinton’s foundation and library donors and contacts. “Financial disclosure issues have been worked out,” a source said, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Clinton and her supporters had recently been lobbying for Obama to hand her the job, especially when it seemed less likely that she would get it, according to U.S. News.

Analysis: Recent cabinet picks reveal Washington experience

By the end of November, sources said that many of Obama’s Cabinet posts had already been decided. News surfaced that Tom Daschle would be secretary of Health and Human Services, Janet Napolitano would be secretary of Homeland Security, Eric Holder would serve as attorney general, and Peter Orszag would be the next director of Office of Management and Budget. Rahm Emanuel has been hired as Obama’s chief of staff.

Obama has tapped a number of former Bill Clinton staffers for his cabinet. Some have criticized such a selection of veteran Washington insiders, saying it clashes with Obama’s message of “change,” but others praise Obama for choosing an experienced and knowledgeable cast of advisors.

The president-elect opted to cross the aisle, however, by keeping Robert Gates on as defense secretary. Although the selection of Gates, who was appointed to the position by President George W. Bush, might come as a disappointment to some Democrats, the registered Independent does have bipartisan support and shares many of the same views on the war on terror, such as the need to scale down troops in Iraq for increased deployment in Afghanistan.

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