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What He Should Have Thought, then Said

9 October 2008

[a work in progress]

qb does not watch televised debates; they measure something, but qb’s not certain that they measure anything terribly well correlated with being a good president.  But during the Tuesday debate, rumor has it that Brokaw asked whom McCain would choose to be his Secretary of the Treasury, and the question got me to thinking in broader terms than just one Cabinet slot.  If McCain wanted to score points with his base – which he apparently does not, now that he thinks the admittedly brilliant Palin pick has brought the base home – he would answer such questions in the following ways.  Unfortunately, of course, he doesn’t think in these terms, because he’s not really a deeply thoughtful conservative.


“I will not be giving you any names of specific people, but I can tell you this:  we will seek to surround the White House with aggressively conservative Secretaries whose outlook is similar to our own but who are unafraid to speak truth to power.  We want prophets, not lackeys, managing the day-to-day affairs of executive governance.  We want thoughtful, fearless reformers who have a demonstrated track record of confronting and overcoming the entrenched interests, bloated institutions, and comfortable careerists that run the bureaucracies.  We want articulate, persuasive thinkers who can help me convince Congress to change its ways of thinking.  We want them to be deeply principled so that they can withstand the winds of political pressure from all sides.  But we also want them to be flexible, outcome-oriented pragmatists who are unafraid to change tactics, if by doing so we will serve the American people with greater effectiveness, efficiency, integrity, and fidelity.  In some cases, especially concerning Departments that have outlived their original usefulness, we will select individuals who are willing to do such good work that they put themselves out of a job.

“I can also tell you this:  there will be no token Democrats in my Cabinet.  There will be no token whites, blacks, Hispanics, or Asians.  There will be no token women.  In fact, there will be no tokens at all; I believe that selecting people on the basis of race or sex is an insult to all Americans.  

“We do not care all that much what the Cabinet looks like; we only care that each of the Secretaries meets the criteria I just outlined and that he or she is demonstrably competent, humble, and forthright.  If the best person for the slot is a Libertarian woman, so be it; if a white Democrat, so be it; if a black Republican, so be it.  But we will not be constrained by the artificial, arbitrary standards of cynical multiculturalism, and we will not be bullied by the race and gender hustlers who enjoy the sycophantic, incestuous adoration of the mainstream, American media.  To sum up, we will appoint individuals, not classes.

“Let me also remind you of this:  as President and Vice President of the United States, we will not be angling for the fawning approval of the international community as we go about selecting our Cabinet.  We will not go out of our way to thumb our noses at any of our allies, but neither will we consult European or Middle Eastern or South American media or polling organizations as our advisors.  As for our sworn enemies among the neoimperialists of Asia and the sponsors of terror worldwide, we do not harbor any delusions of winning you to our side by picking a Cabinet that pleases you.  In fact, we will strive to pick a Cabinet that is willing to challenge your nefarious agendas wherever and whenever possible.

“Here are my specific criteria for each post:

“Secretary of State?  The chief job at State is to represent the interests of the United States at the negotiating table.  We want a poker expert who knows the world and its dangers and who knows how to use the United States’ economic and military strength to further our national interests.  But the interests of the United States are not, and never have been, a matter of national self-indulgence.  Our grandest interests involve the expansion of economic and political freedom around the world, for as the frontiers of freedom advance, and as the peoples of the world acquire the right of self-determination, the world will be more inclined to mutual cooperation and peace.  We want a Secretary of State who is an experienced and persuasive negotiator, a student of world history and culture, a tenacious defender of the founding ideals of the United States; someone who is equal parts visionary and pragmatist.

Secretary of Defense?  [to be continued]

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