Skip to main content

I wanted to share a quick thought about Arizona's Janet Napolitano's nomination as Director of Homeland Security.  What I really think we're seeing here is Barack Obama at his most farseeing and strategic.   This week, we learned that John McCain plans to run for re-election in 2010.  By tapping Napolitano, Obama has probably neutralized the only real threat to McCain's hopes for a fifth Senate term.  Why is this smart?  Because a soothed, magnanimous-feeling McCain would be a tremendous asset for Obama's climate change/energy agenda.  Obama, as Rahm Emanuel put it, will "throw long and deep" on health care reform and climate change/energy legislation (Hallelujah!).   Now get this: McCain and some guy named Joe Lieberman introduced the Senate's first ever climate bill in 2003.  Climate change appeals to McCain's  Teddy Roosevelt complex - McCain calls it "a national security issue."  So Obama is pursuing an ego-stroking strategy with McCain like's Lieberman strategy: votes over revenge.  

Despite his embarrassing presidential campaign,  McCain still commands real respect with the public, the media, and (hopefully) his Senate colleagues on the climate change issue. Ezra Klein has  a great take on Obama's Lieberman strategy too.  Remember: even if Al Franken and Jim Martin win and give the Democrats 60 Senate seats and a filibuster-proof majority, any monumental legislative initiative like Obama's energy agenda MUST have REAL bipartisan support to ensure its acceptance by the public and its long-term success and viability (that's why Pelosi sensibly demanded 100 Republican votes on the bailout bill).   I think that history - and the progressive blogosphere - will vindicate Obama's "Olive Branch" strategy with McCain and Lieberman  when Congress passes the Climate and Energy Bill and the Health Care Reform Bill.  History might even tack on "The Great" before those pieces of legislation, like the Great Reform Act of 1832 in Britain.  It will be fun to see how it all turns out.  

Oh, and I do think Napolitano's a solid choice - her leadership gets high marks, she seems tough as nails, and her experience with the immigration crisis as AZ Attorney General and governor seems quite relevant.  Nonetheless, I had my heard set on an NYPD guy.  New York's finest are the probably the most innovative, experienced, and savvy counter-terrorism practitioners in America - but hopefully Raymond G. Kelly or Michael Sheehan will be helping her bring some order to the current DHS chaos with Janet Napolitano as their boss.  

Update: Chris Orr just made pretty much the same pointas me in a blog entry he just posted at TNR - although he makes his point in a more staid, grounded, less gushy, and better written way than mine.  

It occurred to me yesterday that, while the primary reason for Barack Obama to intervene on Joe Lieberman's behalf was clear enough--he wants to keep that vote on his side--a corollary benefit was that it serves as a kid of peace offering to John McCain, a sign that there are no hard feelings and that Obama is serious about working with the "other" side. McCain is never going to be the leader of the congressional opposition to Obama, after all, so his best bet to remain relevant is probably to refashion himself again as a moderate Republican who can work with Democrats--a role he seems to prefer to to partisan diehard in any case. Assuming he's on the list of Republicans with at least occasionally "gettable" votes on Obama's priorities (along with Snowe, Collins, etc.) what better way to get him (and in some cases, perhaps even Lindsey Graham, too?) than to use his pal Joe as a goodwill ambassador?

The news that Obama may have chosen Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to run the Department of Homeland Security struck me similarly. Obviously, the main reason for Obama's choice (if the reports are accurate) is that he likes and trusts Napolitano--one of his early, steadfast supporters--and thinks she would do a good job. But, again, if a secondary priority is wooing McCain, you could hardly think of a better way to do it. McCain said this week that he intends to run for reelection in 2010, and by far the largest obvious obstacle for him was Napolitano, whose term-limited tenure as governor is up the same year, whom many had speculated might challenge McCain for his seat, and who even led him in one (very) early poll. If you're John McCain, Obama's finding something else for Napolitano to do with her time probably looks like a pretty big favor.

--Christopher Orr

Originally posted to Decatur on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:11 AM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site