Obama assembles “team of rivals

With a speed suited to his groundbreaking Internet campaign, President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet appointments are making their way around the Web in record time. Obama’s picks reflect the direction his presidency will take. Bold choices could signify bold legislation come January.

“Obama’s challenge in naming people to his cabinet,” said Assistant Professor of Political Science Kyle Dell, “is to balance those with Washington experience with those willing to move aggressively and with a spirit of innovation and bipartisanship.”

From the official appointments announced so far, Obama certainly has a mixed bag of experience and enthusiasm.

Rahm Emanuel, the new White House Chief of Staff, possesses both, with a double dose of personality.

A well-practiced campaign manager and fundraiser, Emanuel has worked on, among others, Bill Clinton’s ’92 presidential campaign and Obama’s campaign.

According to TIME, Emanuel has been known to send cheesecakes to wealthy campaign donors and rotting fish to pollsters who haven’t been as obliging.

“If Emanuel’s appointment is a signal of anything, it is that the genteel, arugula-eating president-elect is coming to play hardball,” said associate editor of Foreign Policy magazine Rebecca Frankel on the magazine’s Web site.

One of the earliest leaks arrived in the form of Janet Napolitano, nominated as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Napolitano’s resume has proved impressive enough to quiet most doubters in the media. As the current governor of Arizona, her work on the state’s budget and border control has earned her national regard.

Robert Gates has been asked to stay on as Secretary of Defense.

Gates remains one of the most qualified veterans of Washington politics on the quickly assembling Cabinet. He has served the CIA and the National Security Council, and became director of the CIA under George H.W. Bush. Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld in his current position in 2006, with support from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Eric Holder will become the new Attorney General. His legal career earned him first a judgeship in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and later the post of Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He also served as a senior legal adviser to Obama during the ’08 campaign.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Will Pizio, associate professor in justice and policy studies. “He has 20 years in the Justice Department. He’s definitely the most experienced federal prosecutor who’s ever made it to the A.G. and that’s what I want.”

Timothy Geithner will become the new Secretary of the Treasury.

Obama may be taking a page out of Clinton’s economic policy book. Geithner was a protegé of Clinton’s Treasury secretary, Robert Rubin.

Geithner served as Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs under Clinton, and, more recently, as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Hillary Clinton, as potential Secretary of State, stands as the most immediately controversial choice. Clinton and Obama were neck-and-neck in the ’08 Democratic primaries, and the two senators established a rivalry some are worried may be difficult to overcome in the Oval Office.

Despite the number of cues Obama is taking from his presidency, her husband, former president Bill Clinton, also publicly discredited Obama during his wife’s campaign.

Yet Obama wants a certain amount of opposition from his Cabinet.

Answering a question at a town meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., Obama referenced Abraham Lincoln’s unlikely choices for Cabinet members.

“Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was, ‘how can we get this country through this time of crisis?'” said Obama, according to CNN.

Rivalry aside, Clinton’s qualification for the job is nearly unquestioned.

“She’s a smart, capable woman,” said Associate Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan. “If she could put Bill in the closet and nail the door shut, she’d be perfect.”

Will Obama capture the political alchemy necessary to form a successful team of rivals, experienced and enthusiastic alike?

Dell, like the rest of America, is willing to wait to find out.

“Only time will be a good judge on this count,” Dell said.