EDITOR’S NOTE –
And the transition is complete! John Ashcroft’s confirmation on Feb. 2 marked the completion of Bush’s cabinet, locking down the men and women who will counsel the president behind closed doors over the next four years.
There were no martyrs this year, with the possible, though weak, exception of Linda Chavez. Dubya batted 1.000 at the nomination plate, despite many controversial picks. Although the Senate took its time with a few of the more contested cases, the hearings ran smoothly. The Senate went so far as to streamline seven nominations in one day with the intention of allowing Bush to “hit the ground with his feet running.” Now it is up to the American public to see that these officials carry out their duties in a just and equitable fashion.
Recently, the Daily Nexus published a number of staff editorials criticizing Bush’s first executive actions. These opinions have not arbitrarily singled out Bush or carried the weight of post-election resentment. The fact is Bush and his cabinet are extremely conservative and have wasted no time in proving this. The Nexus would love nothing better than to harbor complete confidence in our president, but it is our journalistic responsibility to monitor government with a vigilant and critical eye.
The following is part two of a two-part satirical critique of the executive cabinet members. Part one was published in Tuesday’s Opinion section. The staff reviewed individual biographies and voting records before coming to a consensus opinion.
Secretary of Commerce Don Evans
Most likely to have done a keg stand with Bush
Why do we have a secretary of commerce with almost no political experience outside of digging up $100 million for Bush’s campaign? Simple, he’s the president’s best friend.
Evans’ other qualifications are basically limited to 25 years working for Tom Brown Inc., an oil and gas company in Texas. Oh yes, Brown is yet another member of Bush’s well-oiled team.
Next to the necessary and proper clause, the commerce clause is the most “useful” in the Constitution for claiming an exorbitant amount of power. Let’s hope somebody left Evans an operations manual.
Secretary of Education Rod Paige
Most likely to drench the president with Gatorade after every educational victory
It would be hard to argue that Paige is unqualified for this position. Although he started his career as a college football coach, Paige spent the last six years as Houston Independent School District superintendent – the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the nation.
Paige made significant progress in boosting test scores and decreasing dropout rates during his time as superintendent. He was nominated for the national superintendent of the year award in 2001.
However, he is a big supporter of school vouchers, and implementation of this scheme is the fastest way to cripple an already handicapped public-education system.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Most likely to be offered a bribe
The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is easily the executive department’s most susceptible to corruption. Both locally and nationally, HUD officials have been viewed with an extremely critical eye. There is no reason to believe that Martinez will fall into the trap, but vigilance is necessary nonetheless.
Martinez has an insignificant track record, with only four years experience as an elected official in Florida (though Florida HUD has been heavily accused of corruption in the past). Thus far, Martinez has paid lip service to growth management and public safety. Such objectives depend upon interpretation, however, and affordable housing must not be neglected. The country would be well advised to keep an eye on this department.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao
Most likely to organize the cabinet photo
After the most heated controversy of the nomination process – Linda Chavez’s decision to decline Bush’s nomination for secretary of labor – Chao stepped in to fill the vacuum. Chao has little-to-no experience in labor and has as yet made no public statement about her views. Nonetheless, there is reason to be optimistic.
As a former president of the United Way and director of the Peace Corps, there is ample reason to believe that Chao guards vested humanitarian interests. She appeals to Democrats because she forged relations with organized labor through her work at the United Way.
Chao’s nomination is anticlimactic, but she is one of the few cabinet members with moderate leanings.
Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta
Most likely to be ignored in cabinet meetings
The only token Democrat in Bush’s cabinet, Mineta is a vestige of the Clinton administration. He is eminently qualified for the position, having served as the secretary of transportation in 2000. He has 20 years experience in the House of Representatives and served as the mayor of San Jose, where he would have been forced to deal with traffic issues in the Silicon Valley.
Mineta has extremely progressive views about the future of transportation. Although “maglev” trains are not currently cost-effective, revolutionizing the United States’s dilapidated rail industry is thinking in the right direction. He has also pushed for electric automobile technology and computerized traffic management. Unfortunately, such items seem to be a low priority in this new administration.
Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill
Most likely to be Alan Greenspan’s bitch
Like Spencer Abraham, O’Neill pulled an about-face when offered a position in Bush’s cabinet. Originally in favor of a gasoline tax to promote fuel-efficient growth, O’Neill recently changed his views. Can we trust him? Maybe not, but let’s continue anyway.
O’Neill is opposed to the macroeconomic inclinations of Clinton secretaries of the treasury. He seeks to get down to the factory floor in order to attain a “true” understanding of the economy. O’Neill opposes international economic intervention and believes the United States should listen more and talk less. He opposed bailing out the Russian ruble, because, you know, the nuclear arms would be better off in Mafia hands anyway. Fortunately for us, O’Neill will most likely just bow to Greenspan’s will.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi
Most likely to do his job
The position of secretary of veteran’s affairs has the least bearing on the daily lives of most Americans. Nevertheless, Principi is the right man for the job. All the qualifications are there – a decorated Vietnam vet and an acting secretary of veterans affairs in 1992.
Principi seeks to enlarge veterans’ benefits, including student and home loans. A major policy goal of Principi’s is to track and investigate medical problems among Gulf War veterans.
Veterans have been historically underappreciated in the United States, and the cost of veterans’ programs have little effect on the taxpayer. Principi has support from the military and is likely to faithfully carry out the duties of his office.