Week 1 - EPA Administrator: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Kathleen McGinty
Week 2 - UN Ambassador: Carol Moseley Braun Susan E. Rice
Note: nominations will usually number around 5-8. The idea is to pick the best candidate for each position (not the "most likely"), but also a candidate who might realistically be chosen by Kerry (i.e. no Kucinich as Sec. of Defense). I admit to not being an expert in many (if not all) of these areas, so other suggestions and criticisms are welcomed. The idea is to get a realistic idea of what the next executive branch should look like.
On to the nominations for Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), otherwise known as the Drug Czar:
David Satcher, ex-Surgeon General
- The office of Drug Czar (created by Reagan in the "just say no" years) presents Kerry with a challenge. He could either stick to the "war on drugs" as presently construed and appoint someone with a law enforcement or military background, or he could break new ground by appointing someone like Dr. Satcher who has a distinguished background in public health (first as Director of CDC, then as Surgeon General). Doing so would send a clear message that the drug war should no longer be considered primarily a law-enforcement problem. Satcher himself is eminently qualified from a public-health perspective. Also a potential Secretary of H&HS.
Kurt Schmoke, Dean of Howard Law School; ex-mayor (Baltimore)
- This borders on the type of "unrealistic" option I warn against choosing, but if Kerry was to make a extremely bold choice, he might appoint someone like Kurt Schmoke. As mayor of Baltimore, he came close to advocating drug legalization, which sparked a rage on the Right (and even from the likes of Charles Rangel) that may make him an unnecessarily controversial choice. Still, his background as a state prosecutor and history of being strong advocate of viewing drug policy as a public health problem make him an intriguing choice, if Kerry could get away with it (and if he even wanted to in the first place). Also has former White House experience in the Carter administration as a domestic policy advisor, and is a former Rhodes Scholar. Might also be considered for a spot at Justice.
Donna Shalala, ex-Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Shalala served in the Cabinet for the entirety of the Clinton administration, and may be a good "compromise" choice between those who advocate outright reform of drug policy and those who would take a more conservative approach, but still turn the focus towards health and treatment and away from law enforcement. She was a strong critic of then-"Czar" Gen. McCaffrey's decision to ban federal funding of needle-exchange programs in the 90's, but she is in no way an advocate of radical reform of our nation's drug policies. While Shalala would almost certainly advocate continuing the "war on drugs" in its present form, she would also bring her years of experience in public health to the table.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
- Jesse Jackson would be a highly symbolic choice for the position of Drug Czar - a message to the nation that those most affected by our drug policy would have an advocate in the White House who understands their concerns. His thinking on the issue has evolved from advocating stiff penalties and aggressive law enforcement to a more balanced approach, but he has never (to my knowledge) been in favor of legalization. His name has actually been floated for this position many times over the years, dating back to 1988 after losing the primaries to Dukakis. He has the stature to get people to listen to him. Whether he would want the job or not is another question.
Gary Johnson, ex-Governor (NM)
- Again, another name I hesitate to nominate, because it's 90% certain that Kerry would never choose someone like Gov. Johnson, perhaps the nation's most famous elected official to call for decriminalization. However, the fact that he's a Republican may convince some to give him second look (and keep in mind, he would need to be confirmed by the Senate). His views are well-known and well-respected on the left, and on the libertarian-leaning wing of the right. I put his name here because in my opinion (and I'm sure many of yours) his courage and rationality on this issue have been truly exceptional.
John Conyers, Rep. (MI)
- Another potentially controversial (and therefore unfortunately unlikely) choice, Conyers has been a strong supporter of medical marijuana use, having sponsored the State's Rights to Medical Marijuana Act in 2001. He is anti-minimum sentencing and has received an award from the Drug Policy Alliance (a drug policy reform group) for his reform-minded stance on many drug-related issues. But he is also a long-serving (2nd longest in the House) and respected member of Congress who would probably be able win confirmation in the Senate. Like Johnson, he would bring neither a strictly health-care, law enforcement, or military approach to the issue, but rather a capacity for rational thought and brave decisions.
Andrea Grubb Barthwell, Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, White House ONDCP
- How's this for an unconventional choice: what other Bush administration appointee would have able to win a whole-hearted endorsement from Paul Wellstone? With a background in medicine and drug treatment, she is currently the main advisor to current Director John Walters on issues relating to treatment and prevention, and has significant experience on the ground dealing with these issues as a doctor in Illinois. However, she is stridently anti-medical marijuana, pro-drug testing in schools, and has taken other positions while in the current administration that would likely rub many on the left the wrong way. But then again, her positions aren't much different from those of the ONDCP under Clinton.
Other suggestions: write in below! (And I really mean it this time - I'm sure there are tons of possibilites I missed out on here.)
Next week: National Economic Council Director