The Romney Cabinet: What Was in the Shadows?

A member response to my last post’s aside —  John Bolton was my hope for a Romney Secretary of State — got me thinking.

One of the criticisms of any challenger to an incumbent president is that the voters do not know what the challenger’s presidency would look like. This is not as much a challenge in parliamentary systems, because the opposition party often picks what’s called a “shadow cabinet,”with “shadow ministers” who mirror the actual holders of the office. It provides a consistent critical voice on government policy from those with expertise, creates a farm team for the future, and gives the electorate an idea of who will govern should the opposition win.

I am not sure whether this would be a good idea, even if possible, in the American system. But since it is surely human nature to end the year by asking about “what-if’s,” perhaps this would be a good moment to speculate on who Romney’s cabinet secretaries should have been.  

* Let me start if off with John Bolton for Secretary of State. Bolton has already been a virtual shadow Secretary of State. He has the experience, having been U.N. Ambassador and Undersecretary of State, and the smarts, and has provided a consistent voice in opposition to the Obama foreign policy. His toughing it out during his hearings for the U.N. Ambassadorship show the steeliness of his character.

* Before the election, I would have said David Petraeus for Secretary of Defense.  But that’s impossible now.  I am not sure that a military officer, in fact, would make a good Secretary of Defense — it might well make civilian control over the military even more difficult. I also think that this most executive of cabinet positions would not be well served by a member of the legislature — witness the performance of Les Aspin in the job during the first Clinton administration. A civilian with policy expertise, like Bob Gates or Paul Wolfowitz, or someone who has run a large business, like a Donald Rumsfeld, would be ideal.

Anyway, you get the idea. Who should Romney have picked for the other major posts, such as Attorney General, Treasury Secretary, HHS, EPA, etc.?  Maybe Ricochet can be the first to crowdsource the Republican shadow cabinet for the next three years.

  1. Fricosis Guy

    I’m sure Obama would have us ask Delenn.

  2. Brady Kiel

    I submit Wisconsin’s freshman Senator Ron Johnson for HHS. The man is a manufacturer, CPA, and acted as an executive for decades in the health appliances field. This most capable of men would be an excellent start to address the behemoth that is the Department of Health and Human Services administration. 

  3. Pseudodionysius

    I nominate Pseudodionysius for a Shadow Cabinet Post.

  4. Tupac Chopra

    Petraeus may have been ineligible in any event.  I think there was a federal statute (or possibly a “gentleman’s agreement”) passed after George Marshall’s 1950-51 tenure as SecDef to the effect that a former flag officer could only serve in that capacity after he’d been retired for at least ten years.  My memory is hazy, but this may have played a role in Colin Powell’s never having been considered for SecDef during Clinton’s presidency.

  5. Peter Robinson
    C

    For Attorney General, John Yoo, natch–and for the very first vacancy on the high court, Richard Epstein.  

  6. Astonishing

    How many Romney shadow cabinet members can dance on the head of a pin?

  7. Flapjack
    Astonishing: How many Romney shadow cabinet members can dance on the head of a pin? · 6 minutes ago

    All of them.

    I don’t think this thread is worth time considering.  It is an exercise of dreaming; the stark reality of a failing country stands before us.  I write this while listening to the president talk about “responsible ways” that he plans on acting in “a balanced and responsible way.”  (Note the repetition; it’s for effect.)  And I am filled with a deep sense of pessimism regarding our country.

  8. Dave Roy
    John Yoo: 

    I am not sure whether this would be a good idea, even if possible, in the American system. But since it is surely human nature to end the year by asking about “what-if’s,” perhaps this would be a good moment to speculate on who Romney’s cabinet secretaries should have been.  

    I don’t think it’s possible in the American system, mainly because you don’t know who’s going to be running for President. In the parliamentary system, the leader of the party getting the most MPs elected becomes the Prime Minister.

    So as long as that person is leader of the Opposition party, you know that person will be PM if his/her party wins, so a Shadow Cabinet can be formed.

    Who would choose this Shadow Cabinet in the States, and how much would it change when they actually have a President (or candidate anyway) to name?

  9. Zentastik

    Dave Carter’s alter ego Alphonse Fontenot would be an excellent “shadow Secretary” of State.  He could keep our adversaries straight and our allies even straighter, and would not be passing out at the first sight of a request for his Congressional testimony!

  10. Nick Stuart

    On further consideration, my nominations are the fictional characters from Sons of Anarchy:

    President:  Jax Teller (after a coup deposing Clay Morrow)

    Vice President: Half Sack

    Secretary of State: Gemma Teller Morrow (only slighly less duplicitous and corrupt than the current incumbent)

    Secretary of Defense:  Tig

    Secretary of Treasury:  Bobby Elvis

    Surgeon General:  Tara Knowles-Teller

    Ambassador to the United Nations:  Marcus Alvarez 

    Attorney General:  Wayne Unser

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs:  Piney

    Secretary of Homeland Security:  Juice

    Secretary of Commerce:  Opie

    Secretaries of all the other stuff:  Prospects

  11. Flapjack
    JeanVianney

    On the contrary:  the public needs to be clearly shown the real policy choices that contrast to “politics as usual” from the Obama Administration.  Obama’s Regime needs to know it is avidly watched. While the MSM will predictably continue its Newspeak,  the principled opposition might light fires out there “all over the place” with “real and inspiring stuff” for “the living” among the public to digest. · 1 hour ago

    Point well taken.

  12. Z in MT
    Flapjack

    Astonishing: How many Romney shadow cabinet members can dance on the head of a pin? · 6 minutes ago

    All of them.

    I don’t think this thread is worth time considering.  It is an exercise of dreaming; the stark reality of a failing country stands before us.  I write this while listening to the president talk about “responsible ways” that he plans on acting in “a balanced and responsible way.”  (Note the repetition; it’s for effect.)  And I am filled with a deep sense of pessimism regarding our country. · 3 hours ago

    Jean,

    I wanted to make this point too.  Don’t think of it as what if Romney had won.  Think of it as, who should be the republican’s go to guys for Republican policy opinions in different areas.   The way it is now, the republican shadow cabinet is de facto those camera hog Senators like McCain and Lindsey Graham who will show up any where there is a camera.

  13. Daniel Jeyn

    How about Bobby Knight as ambassador to the United Nations?  I think he had the right style for that.

  14. Z in MT

    I’ll second John Bolton for Sec State and John Yoo for Attorney General

    Rudy Guliani for Defense

    Tom Coburn for Treasury

    Sarah Palin for Interior

    and eliminate all the rest of the departments as unconstitutional ;).

  15. Capt. Aubrey

    A Texan friend insisted Richard Fisher would’ve replaced Bernanke at the Fed so if I couldn’t put him at Tresury then John Taylor … Or vice versa. Makes me sick to speculate on what will not be.

  16. Aelreth

    I personally think that an interesting pick for Secretary of the Navy, Air Force (do they have one?), or Army would be an E9 of that branch. Why I bring this up is that if you want to find someone that can reduce the the headcount of redundant officers, it would be a former E9 in a cabinet seat.

    For Secretary of Defense, Allen West is a good choice, why he isn’t carpet bagging his way into a now open congressional seat in SC right now is beyond me.

    Any cabinet post should be inhabited by someone wronged by that department, for example Randy Weaver of the Ruby Ridge fame should be in charge of the Justice dept. Those with blood vendettas should have top priority.

  17. Astonishing
    Flapjack

    Astonishing: How many Romney shadow cabinet members can dance on the head of a pin?

    All of them.

    I don’t think this thread is worth time considering.  It is an exercise of dreaming; the stark reality of a failing country stands before us.  I write this while listening to the president talk about “responsible ways” that he plans on acting in “a balanced and responsible way.”  (Note the repetition; it’s for effect.)  And I am filled with a deep sense of pessimism regarding our country.

    Yes, Obama’s gleeful demagogic demonstration this morning made me puke and cry at the same time.

    Really, though, the idea of a “shadow cabinet” is not such a bad one–but only if it excludes the word “Romney.” The loyal opposition should identify specific individuals who have responsibility for leading and elucidating the conservative position on defense, healthcare, entitlements, etc.

  18. KC Mulville
    Peter Robinson: For Attorney General, John Yoo, natch–and for the very first vacancy on the high court, Richard Epstein.   · 1 hour ago

    Well that would enhance the podcast.

  19. Call2Doody

    If Mitt Romney desired an active role. this would make sense. Whenever Obama gives a speech, he could rebut. He’d need a title such as President of the RNC. This would give Republicans a “single voice” to respond above and beyond immediate legislative issues. Having a nominee emeritus well versed in fiscal matters would be a particularly strong asset.

    John McCain kept himself on the talk shows in the four years following his defeat, but he had the platform of a sitting Senator. I’d certainly rather see Romney out there instead of media hounds like McCain, Lindsay Graham, or Sarah Palin.

    As for “shadow cabinet” ministers, we already have you a great team on the op-ed pages and in the think tanks.  John Bolton is much read on foreign policy; Elliot Abrams on the Middle East; Victor Davis Hanson lends an historical perspective;  and our crack legal team does a great job countering Eric Holder, at least in print.

    Beyond print, it’s more difficult. The networks won’t rush to the conservative brain trust. That’s why a coordinated response led by our former Presidential candidate is the best bet. If he’s interested.

  20. JeanVianney
    Flapjack

    Astonishing: How many Romney shadow cabinet members can dance on the head of a pin? · 6 minutes ago

    All of them.

    I don’t think this thread is worth time considering.  It is an exercise of dreaming; the stark reality of a failing country stands before us.  I write this while listening to the president talk about “responsible ways” that he plans on acting in “a balanced and responsible way.”  (Note the repetition; it’s for effect.)  And I am filled with a deep sense of pessimism regarding our country. · 39 minutes ago

    On the contrary:  the public needs to be clearly shown the real policy choices that contrast to “politics as usual” from the Obama Administration.  Obama’s Regime needs to know it is avidly watched. While the MSM will predictably continue its Newspeak,  the principled opposition might light fires out there “all over the place” with “real and inspiring stuff” for “the living” among the public to digest.