Considering Republicans For An Obama Cabinet

The Politico reports that, “California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview aired Sunday that he would be open to the idea of serving as energy czar in a Barack Obama administration.” This is all hypothetical as no position has been offered, but a liberal Republican such as Schwarzenegger is the type of Republican which would make sense to include in an Obama administration. The Politco observes:

A Schwarzenegger appointment would add even more star power to a hypothetical Obama administration, and would allow Obama to make an appointment from across the aisle that would not upset his core supporters.

It probably would not upset his post-partisan core supporters but some long-time Democrats might not go along. I find via Memeorandum that Pamela Leavey at The Democratic Daily does object. Seeing this objection to Schwarzenegger raises a question in my mind about support or opposition to California politicians.  Pamela, at least back in the days when I worked with her at The Democratic Daily , did seem to support Diane Feinstein. She is a Democrat that, while certainly not as bad as Lieberman, is one which I think the Democrats would be wise to get rid of. Between her right wing record on civil liberties issues and her support for Bush’s Medicare policy she has not been a Democrat who I would see any value in voting for (beyond backing her over a worse Republican opponent).

Living far from California I am certainly not as aware of all the specifics of the positions held by either Feinstein or Schwarzenegger but I have a hard time seeing how someone could support a conservative Democrat such as Feinstein and oppose a liberal Republican such as Schwarzenegger. While there might be some specific examples, in general I do not see that overall Feinstein is any closer to liberal Democratic positions than Schwarzenegger. In both cases I am sure there are positions where I would agree and disagree, and therefore I would not care if either wound up in a cabinet position dealing with an area where I agreed with them. To support Feinstein and have such a blanket opposition to Schwarzenegger can only be based upon pure partisanship. Hopefully reducing such knee jerk partisanship will be one of the accomplishments of Obama.

Pamela also writes:

It’s incredibly far-fetched that Obama would even consider Schwarzenegger for the role of “energy czar” when there’s a wealth of Democrats far more qualified than Schwarzenegger. Of the top of my head, Schwarzenegger doesn’t hold a candle on environmental issues to Democratic Party environmentalists like Al Gore, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer.

Perhaps our views on Feinstein aren’t as far apart as she does pick the better of the two California Senators.  I doubt Gore would be interested in the  position. Kerry would be a fine choice but I would prefer to see him as Secretary of State, or possibly even Attorney General.  Energy policy might actually be a good position for a  liberal Republican to  help develop a bipartisan consensus, so the appointment of Schwarzenegger does actually sound like a reasonable choice.

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  1. 1
    mbk says:

    Ron, Pamela’s on the right track on this one. Leaving the feud between you two (about which I have no opinion) out of the picture, and also leaving  Feinstein (an issue unto herself) out of the picture, the main problem with the Terminator as energy czar is that there about 1000 people with more qualifications to run the dept of Energy than him.  And, absolutely, Boxer, Gore, and Kerry are true authorities on these issues (which Arnold is not). Yes, he’s not as horrible on energy issues as most Republicans, but. .why not someone who’s truly qualified?.

  2. 2
    Pamela Leavey says:


    Liberals like myself in CA would have preferred that Arnold never got into office the way he did and have little appreciation for things he’s done to hurt Californian’s like cutting the budget on education and healthcare for low income residents. Then there was his blanket support for Bush in ’04. DiFi, I will remind you was a very early endorser for JK. There’s a long list of reasons not to like Arnold if you are a California resident. On the flip side, DiFi, like Barbara Boxer has always done a lot for Californians since she’s been in the Senate.
    There are many issues however that I don’t agree with DiFi on, but I respect the fact that she’s broken the glass ceiling and is very vocal on some issues that are important to Democrats.

    I’m a Dem party loyalist. I think I’ve always made that clear on The DD. I worked to try to Phil Angelides in the Governor’s office in ’06 and get Arnold out. I’ll be glad as many Dems here will be when he’s gone.

  3. 3
    Pamela Leavey says:


    After all this time… I have no desire to keep up any aspects of any feud with Ron and never wanted to in the first place.
    As for Arnold, he’s in many ways a wolf in sheep’s clothing, from the perspective of things he promised on the more moderate or progressive level and then back tracked on.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    What if Arnold happened to be a Democrat instead of a Republican? (Of course in that case he’d be a conservative Democrat as opposed to a liberal Republican). Would he be acceptable if he was a Democrat? If Arnold is not acceptable, is Feinstein. (If by chance you also say that Feinstein would be a poor choice due to her conservative views, then I couldn’t argue with excluding Arnold or say it was based upon party alone.)

    The Energy Department might not be the best place for him but it is inevitable that a Republican will be picked somewhere for Obama’s cabinet.  Bill Clinton did so, and with Obama’s stress on post-partisanship it would be hard for him not to do the same. Given that a Republican will be chosen for Obama’s cabinet, I would think that a liberal Republican such as Schwarzenegger would be a fair choice. There are certainly other possibilities (although this might be harder as so many moderate Republicans have left the party in recent years). If the article talked about Arnold as a possibility for Obama’s cabinet without saying the Energy Department, then would you still object so storngly?

    This has nothing to do with any other disagreements I’ve had with Pamela on other matters. I’ve always found it curious to support Feinstein while opposing Schwarzenegger as ideologically I don’t see a tremendous difference between the two, and am not even convinced that she is more liberal than Schwarzenegger.

    Strategic voting for Feinstein in order to have Democratic control of the Senate or to block a worse Republican would be a different matter, but I get the impression that Pamela supports her more than that. Again, not living in California I am not following either as closely as Californians most likely are and would be interested in how Arnold has back tracked on his more progressive and moderate promises.

    He did get into office in an unusual manner, but both this and your preference for someone else as governor is not really relevant to the question of whether he would be ok as a Republican added to Obama’s cabinet.

  5. 5
    Pamela Leavey says:


    FYI, I occassionally write about DIFi, because as a CA blogger, I am on her press list and Boxer’s too. When something interests me and I have the time, or it is in the news, I post about it. That hardly makes me a cheerleader for DiFi.

    I made it clear that I respect DiFi, as a woman, for her early support of JK and things she has done for CA.  There are certain issues I agree with her stance on, like women’s issues, gun control, environmental issues like pthlates in kids toys and other products. There are other issues I disagree with her on like her support for Iraq.

    It took her a long time to come around on Iraq, but she has and was very vocal when she did. Likewise, I’m not happy with her support for FISA, nor am I happy with Obama’s frankly.

    DiFi interestingly, is one of those moderate Democrats who displays the traits of reaching across the aisle and working in a bi-partisan manner, as Obama says he will. I respect that actually, contrary to what you believe I think or respect. Sadly, DiFi often reaches out on issues, we Dems don’t always agree with.

    I suspect Obama will do the same thing — he will reach out on issues we Democrats disagree with and he will raise the ire of liberals and progressives from time to time. Bill Clinton did it when he was in office. JK has done it in the Senate, Kennedy has too… That is how it works isn’t it?

    Most Dems here in CA take issue with Arnold on the way he got into office and the promises he made in the first election that were broken. He’s made a mess of the budget here, although his goal was to fix it (this has all been in the news). There’s a long list of things Dems here don;t like about Arnold and we’d prefer a Dem in Governor’s mansion for change. We’ve had enough of Republican control there to last a while. Taking back the control of Governor here is as serious to Dems in CA as putting a Dem in the White House in some regards. We want real change here.
    Who Obama puts in his cabinet is his business. If he puts Republicans in the cabinet and they are qualified, more power to him. But as I pointed out in my post there are Dems far more qualified on the environment and it’s an issue that is more important to most Dems than Republicans. My opinion is Obama can do better than Arnold.

    It’s all speculation and probably, a pipe dream of Arnold’s more than a reality. Not worth the long discussion in my opinion, thus my brief post about, as a California who occassionally writes about CA politicians.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m not sure we’re getting anywhere with regards to my original point, but its not worth pursuing further, especially as it is all speculation. Note, however, that considering Arnold for Obama’s cabinet and wanting to replace him with a Democrat for governor are not inconsistent.

    Obama will reach out on issues but in contrast to Clinton he appears to stick more to core liberal principles while it often seemed like Clinton would compromise anything for political gain. Kerry would be a much better model than Clinton for the pragmatic use of compromise without compromising principle.

    I also disagree with Obama’s vote for the FISA compromise but his underlying views on FISA will hopefully be more important once he is elected. I fear that any Democrat in his position as  nominee would have voted for the compromise, considering how many other Democrats also voted for it, denying a candidate sufficient political cover for voting against it.

  7. 7
    Pamela Leavey says:


    I don’t think there was anywhere to get in the first place. Take care.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    There were issues of significance. Remember the context–the article from The Politco refers to Arnold as someone “would allow Obama to make an appointment from across the aisle that would not upset his core supporters.” I agreed, but checking Memeorandum you were the only Democratic blogger commenting at the time and you had the opposite opinion. I found this of interest, especially considering the contradiction I always found present in supporting Feingold (assuming you really did) and opposing Schwarzenegger when from my perspective there is little ideological difference, and Schwarzenegger might even be the more liberal of the two.

    I understand that you place a considerable stress on party identification where I am interested in ideology and consider party affiliation irrelevant (other than for the situation of voting for Democrats in the Senate since this affected control in recent years, which was important for placing a check on Bush–not that the Democrats have been very effective as an opposition party.) We are always going to disagree on that one, and it isn’t worth arguing over.

    The context of a cabinet appointment, assuming some Republican appointees are inevitable, is a different situation. While I understand your opposition to Schwarzenegger as governor, such opposition would not be relevant to a cabinet position. A moderate Republican such as Schwarzenegger certainly sounds preferable to a more typical conservative Republican. I could be wrong as I’m not watching him in great detail, but Schwarzenegger does appear to agree with the Democratic consensus on energy issues, and therefore he could be useful in creating a bipartisan policy. After eight years of Bush governing by ignoring the opposition party, using Schwarzenegger in such a manner does seem much preferable. Energy policy, to be successful, must also consider the interests of business, and conservative businessmen might be more willing to go along with a policy backed by a Republican such as Schwarzenegger. Right or wrong, my Republican businessmen friends do seem to like Schwarzenegger and I find it to be more useful to stress his agreement with liberals on some issues as opposed to stressing his faults.

    There was certainly somewhere to go with this, but if you are not intersted in providing a better answer that is your perogative.

  9. 9
    Pamela Leavey says:


    Again, there are for more qualified people for the position. That’s what I stated in my post. Sorry to say, I’m not much interested in discussing politics these days, I’m busy with other business projects.

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