With the first presidential debate on record, voters have finally had a chance to see both major party candidates take on the issues and each other. However, in order to look through carefully crafted campaign rhetoric and attacks on the other candidates policies, an informed voter can look at potential cabinet picks to really see what is important to the presidential candidates.
First, a review of President Barack Obama’s cabinet reveals details of the way the president thinks. Having been a professor at the University of Chicago’s Law School, Obama comes from the academic community. In turn, so do many of his cabinet appointees. Take for example, Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of commerce: originally from Missouri, summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota and recipient of a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served on President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and has been a professor of economics at Northwestern University and the dean of the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.
Obama’s secretary of energy is Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California-Berkley. Chu earned his doctorate in physics in 1970 and received the Nobel Prize in 1997 for cooling atoms with laser light. The Department of Energy manages the nation’s nuclear weapons program, nuclear reactor research, energy research and conservation and domestic energy production: a key nexus between research and development and private industry that produces our nation’s energy. Because the Department of Energy is also tasked with regulating the energy industry, the secretary of energy must be able to lead both complex research in alternative energy and regulate a $1.2 trillion industry, projected to grow to $1.7 trillion by 2030.
Professors not only teach and conduct their own research; they conduct many administrative functions for their research groups, directing graduatestudents and post-doctoral researchers. Such careers are excellent preparation for administrative positions in the federal government, especially departments that provide grant funding for research or run their own internal research institutes, like the DOE.
Late this summer, Politico, a premier political news organization, reported on potential members of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s cabinet. Romney’s choices, Politico reports, center on establishment of Republican advisors and the business community. Take for example Mike Leavitt, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and as secretary of health and human services under President George W. Bush. Leavitt, a fellow Mormon, has been reported to be forming Romney’s transition plans should Romney win the presidency. It goes to show that despite Romney’s rhetoric separating himself from former President Bush’s policies and administration, he will be returning to many of the same players from past GOP administrations.
Politico also reports Jack Gerard, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute and Big Oil’s top lobbyist, as a potential pick for the secretary of energy. This comes amongst allegations that the oil industry helped write Romney’s energy plan. Since Politico’s prediction, Gerard has denied the rumors he would serve in the Romney administration.
Finally, Romney has said he would empower his cabinet more than Obama, indicating that his appointments will be of the utmost importance to the direction the federal government takes. Seeing names of the establishment Republican officials and top-industry lobbyists shows exactly what Romney’s intent is, no matter the rhetoric.
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