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.