Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Kerry Shadow Cabinet?

Kos has started a new Cattle Call for the Veepstakes. It's "for fun only" says Kos but who knows what influence it might have on the final result?

What draws my interest here, however, is the leading comment to Kos' post that suggests that Kerry go beyond just naming a VP and name his entire cabinet before he is even elected!

I got into a discussion a couple of months back about the idea of the eventual nominee naming a shadow cabinet before the election. It seems to me to only be tradition that says you wait until after the election to name who will be your leading deputies. But why stick to tradition? After all, Colin Powell was the presumptive Secretary of State even before Bush was selected. It wasn't official, but everyone knew the job was his.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach? Well, one advantage is that you present the election in terms of administration v. administration, not just president v. president. Each of the designated cabinet nominees become the immediate go-to spokesperson for their area of concern. So the weekly talk shows will be filled from here until November with debates not just between the top of the ticket but between all their designated hitters. This would certainly take the stress off of Kerry to be the #1 expert in each and every field.

I've often thought that Dean suffered for not having enough surrogates to go out there and take media heat for him.

Of course there are disadvantages. For one thing, nearly every slate of cabinet appointees has one or two that embarrass their boss by not getting approved, either because of partisan differences or because they are brought down by a previously unknown scandal. This kind of thing inevitably tarnishes the reputation of the person who selected them in the first place. So, if Kerry were to choose members of his shadow cabinet now, he'd have to be pretty damn sure they would pull there weight.

It may be to risky a proposition for someone like Kerry to pursue, even to a limited extent (1-2 nominees for, say, Defense and State). But it is an interesting idea to discuss.


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