Outlining the Kerry Cabinet

Kerry could do a lot for Democratic Party unity by pledging to invite his former primary opponents to join his cabinet if elected.

I had hoped for a female vice-presidential candidate. When Geraldine Ferraro, the most prominent woman to run for that position, visited the University of Minnesota in March, she suggested Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., or Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. To that list Minnesota Daily columnist Aaron North added Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kan.

Out of those four women, I thought Landrieu would be the biggest asset to John Kerry, D-Mass. First, she’s from a southern state, which would balance the ticket. Second, she retained her seat during a tough run-off election last year, showing she has what it takes to be a serious political candidate.

Finally, with her service as a state representative, state treasurer and her knowledge of the U.S. Senate committees concerning appropriations, armed services, energy and natural resources, small business and entrepreneurship, Landrieu would have brought a broad set of skills to the campaign.

However, it gradually became clear that Kerry would need John Edwards, D-N.C., to win. I still wish a female vice president would have been possible, and would have preferred Edwards to put his 20 years of experience as a lawyer to use as Attorney General. But my spirit was somewhat buoyed on the day that Kerry announced Edwards as his vice president choice, to see Landrieu speaking in favor of Edwards, whom she called a close personal friend.

Now that the vice-presidential candidate has been picked, I have a few suggestions for Kerry for the rest of his cabinet. I think the senator from Massachusetts could do a lot for Democratic Party unity by pledging to invite his former primary opponents to join his cabinet if elected.

Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., dropped out of the presidential race after Iowa’s caucuses. The extensive labor union support he had going into those caucuses and his reputation for working with the unions would make him the perfect secretary of labor.

Former U.N. Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois has extensive participation in national leadership from her time as a U.S. senator and international leadership from her time as an ambassador to New Zealand. These varied perspectives make the perfect combination for a secretary of state.

Former NATO commander Wesley Clark of Arkansas spent 38 years serving the public as a four-star general in the U.S. Army. He also has an international perspective from studying at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. This is definitely a resume worthy of secretary of defense.

Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont was a doctor for 13 years before governing Vermont for 12. CNN reported that in that time, Dean managed to institute a program that would guarantee health care coverage for almost all children under 18 and helped reduce the child abuse rate by half. Sounds like the perfect qualifications for surgeon general.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has the respect of many environmental groups for his stances as a vegan, nuclear power critic and genetically- engineered food watchdog, so he would make an ideal secretary of the interior or director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

From Sen. Bob Graham’s, D-Fla., childhood on a dairy farm to his various adult jobs as a fisherman, builder and rancher, he has more than what it takes to be a fine secretary of agriculture.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., has experience as that state’s attorney general and has served on the U.S. Senate’s Governmental Affairs and Armed Services, making him a model candidate for director of Homeland Security.

Lastly, the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York has devoted his life to reforming education and housing across the nation and in the nation’s largest city, qualifying him for either secretary of education or Housing and Human Services.

That still leaves the Attorney General Position. Out of the prominent females discussed at the beginning of this column, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is probably the most qualified.

She has a law degree from Yale, where she interned with Child Advocate Marion Wright Edleman. She has also advised the Children’s Defense Fund, served as a junior member of the Watergate Investigation Team that advised the House Judiciary Committee on whether Nixon could be impeached, taught at the University of Arkansas’ law school, and was a partner with the Rose Law Firm.

She has served on the board for Arkansas Legal Services and as First Lady, chaired a task force on Healthcare and led the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women.

Come to think of it, Hillary could just as easily be a Supreme Court Justice as Attorney General. It really seems like there’s very little Hillary can’t do.

Now if only I could get Kerry to listen to me this time.

R.R.S. Stewart welcomes comments at [email protected]