UI political science professors weigh in on Obama’s cabinet selections

By Paolo Cisneros

President-elect Barack Obama continued to fill out his cabinet Monday, announcing three more selections at a news conference in Chicago. Hillary Clinton was chosen to serve as secretary of state while Susan Rice was pegged for ambassador to the United Nations. Robert Gates will continue his role as defense secretary. In Urbana, University professors chimed in on Obama’s picks..

Paul Diehl, professor of political science

“To me the Gates nomination was done largely for continuity purposes. Susan Rice is somebody who’s almost like a trusted aide with experience. And then you have HC which seems to be a much more political choice. He’s in some sense trying to emulate Lincoln by choosing political rivals to be part of his cabinet. I don’t see one sort of theme across all his appointments.”

Brian Gaines, Institute of Government and Public Affairs faculty member

“Hillary Clinton is the most interesting of the bunch. It’s been somewhat common for presidents to make vice presidential nominees out of primary rivals, but secretary of state is an unusual position for a major opponent. Gates is another interesting point. He seems to be a universally respected figure and, with the exception of left-wing blogs, I think everybody seems to think he’s the wise choice.”

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Joseph Hinchliffe, University professor of political science

“I think he’s chosen a very distinguished group of experienced public servants. I think that in putting together both his national security cabinet and his White House staff thus far he is looking for frank and candid discussions in his administration. His experiences are such that President Obama will be well able to take advantage of the wide range of ideas and experiences of the people in his cabinet.”