Diverse Group of `Insiders' Tapped for Cabinet Jobs
WASHINGTON — WITH almost all of President-elect Clinton's men and women now assembled, pundits, politicians, and interest groups will assess the makeup and the probable dynamics of the most diverse Cabinet in history in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender.
But while Mr. Clinton delivered on his promise of more diversity in his choice of top government officials, he may have fallen short of fulfilling his pledge to offer the country fresh leaders.
Four blacks, four women, and two Hispanics later, the Cabinet is also stocked with an "inside Washington" and big-business crowd that Clinton the campaigner vowed to avoid. As president-elect, he says his choices are essential to move his economic plan through Congress with as little resistance as possible and to gain the confidence of the foreign-policy community.
His first moves - assembling an economic-policy team that already is plugged into the country's power structure - reflected his first priority: to quickly address national economic problems. His Treasury secretary-designate, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas, and his budget director-designate, Rep. Leon Panetta (D) of California, as well budget director deputy-designate Alice Rivlin, a former Congressional Budget Office director, are well-respected among their lawmaker colleagues. They have won broad suppo rt as ably experienced in budget and tax matters.
Clinton reinforced his ties to corporate America with Wall Streeters Roger Altman, who was selected to serve as Mr. Bentsen's deputy, and Robert Rubin, who will head the newly created National Economic Council. Other nominees from the ranks of big business included Zoe Baird for attorney general and Energy Secretary-designate Hazel O'Leary. Ms. Baird has served as general counsel to Aetna Life and Casualty Company, and Ms. O'Leary is president of Northern States Power Company. Mickey Kantor, Clinton's ch oice for US trade representative; Ron Brown, the Democratic National Committee chairman who was tapped for commerce secretary; and Transportation Secretary-designate Federico Pena, are among six other appointees who hail from powerful legal/business lobbying firms.
In the area of national security, Clinton's selection of Warren Christopher for secretary of state and House Armed Services Committee chairman Les Aspin (D) of Wisconsin for defense secretary were also "establishment" choices. All of Clinton's foreign-policy choices - from the proposed director of the Central Intelligence Agency, James Woolsey, to United Nations Ambassador-designate Madeleine Albright - served in the Carter administration. They are expected to offer solid experience, but by many account s they lack the innovation that was the rally cry of Clinton's campaign.
Craig Smith, who ran Clinton's countrywide field operations during the campaign and is charged with developing political policy for the new White House and the Democratic National Committee, says that Clinton's top positions will look a lot like his campaign: "He'll be accessible, reach out to a varied group of policymakers, and then choose from the best possible advice."
That approach could prove problematic, as conflicting Cabinet officials battle for Clinton's ear. For example, recommendations or regulations from Environmental Protection Agency director-designate Carol Browner or Interior Secretary-designate Bruce Babbitt, both champions of ecological causes, could run counter to big-business advocates such as Mr. Bentsen, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Kantor. Prickly issues are likely to surface soon in the domestic tax and foreign-trade arenas, especially with newly forming acc ords such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which already pits environmentalists against industry.
As "inside" as many of Clinton's appointments appear, many groups that feel disenfranchised are heartened by a number of his nominations, such secretary-designate for housing and urban development Henry Cisneros, to posts responsible for developing social policy. Groups expecting to see more money spent on low- and moderate-income housing - a Clinton pledge - have endorsed Mr. Cisneros, a former mayor of San Antonio, as an official who will be able to address the needs of city governments, public housing
agencies, and even real estate developers.
Rep. Mike Espy (D) of Mississippi, who has represented that state's poverty-stricken Delta region and who Clinton nominated to be his agriculture secretary, Donna Shalala, tapped to be the next secretary of health and human services, Richard Riley, a former South Carolina governor who is Clinton's education secretary-designate, and Arkansas health official Joyce Elders, slated to be the next surgeon general, also are recognized by grass-roots organizations as strong leaders in reforms to help America's n eediest.
Still to come are the subcabinet and White House staff appointments, which many observers say will involve the most important decisionmaking.
These jobs are expected to be filled by experienced technicians, strategists, and analysts.
Those in the so-called domestic, economic, and national-security-policy cluster groups that Clinton has organized for his transition period are working hard to complete their lists of proposed appointments. They have sent out feelers to government, the private sector and academia and have canvassed a wide spectrum from corporate CEOs to journalists for advice.