Thursday, November 20, 2008

Team of rivals?

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has been mentioned as a possibility for the Homeland Security post in the new Obama administration. I'd like to see the post go to another Arizonan -- John McCain.

Doris Kearns Goodwin has been all over the media lately, discussing the Team of Rivals that made up the Lincoln administration, and how the concept might be put into play by Barack Obama. (In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit to a major crush on Doris Kearns Goodwin.) Indeed, Obama has suggested that he will include a Republican or two in his administration. If he could persuade McCain to accept Homeland Security, the results would be entirely positive.

More than 46% of voters chose McCain, many because they believed he was better qualified to protect the country from terrorist attacks. It seems likely that a lot of Obama voters also thought McCain's anti-terrorist credentials were better than Obama's, but decided that the economy or some other factor was more important to them. Anybody unsure about Obama in this area would be reassured by McCain (and anybody unsure of McCain would be reassured by the fact that Sarah Palin would not be his second in command.)

Republican Party officials, of course, would be totally irate because Napolitano would appoint a Democrat to fill McCain's seat in the Senate. Fox News would be filled with aging white men huffing and puffing and shaking their jowls, which would provide needed comic relief amidst the ongoing news of economic collapse. (It certainly would tickle my funnybone.)

Would McCain accept? Maybe. Nobody in his party is looking to him for leadership, and plenty of Republicans are attacking him -- blaming him for the party's extensive losses. There's not much he can accomplish in a Democratic controlled Senate, and it's not in his nature to hunker down and dedicate himself to obstructionism. After a lifetime of service to his country, he probably would like to continue a while longer -- and his pal Joe Lieberman will be running the Senate committee.

Could Obama count on him? Certainly. McCain is honest, and loyal to a fault. His service on the Armed Services Committee and on Commerce subcommittees for aviation and surface and marine transportation gives him useful background knowledge.

McCain might not be especially popular with Rahm Emmanuel or David Axelrod, and his presidential campaign was more than a little unsavory from time to time, but he still is admired by most Americans -- even those who opposed him. If he became a member of the new administration, it would demonstrate conclusively that Obama is serious about postpartisan governance. Better than any other appointmet, it could bring the country together.

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