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January 14, 2013

Obama selects sound Cabinet

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The Daily Star

---- — With the inauguration for his second term set for Jan. 21, President Barack Obama has already made many decisions to cement his road for the next four years.

His primary focus recently has been on selecting nominees for various posts in his Cabinet. Choosing the right candidates can help ease them through the congressional hearings needed to finalize their appointments. Those in the Cabinet assist Obama in affairs important to our nation while he looks to shore up the economic recovery and other policies.

With less focus on earning political capital and more on finding the right fit, Obama’s picks have been smart and well-reasoned.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Obama’s selection for secretary of State, brings a strong background in foreign affairs and a long career forging bonds with lawmakers at home and abroad.

He already has carried Obama’s foreign policy message to, among many other places, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan during his stint as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And he will bring a much-needed voice to the Cabinet on Middle Eastern affairs. As a decorated Vietnam veteran, Kerry also brings his perspective of the need for intervention globally, whether diplomatically or militarily.

Also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee during his two terms in the Senate and a Vietnam veteran, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., is a sound choice for secretary of Defense. As with Kerry, his military service and support for federal funding for various veterans’ programs shows an appreciation for the tough choices needed to defend our country.

Obama’s choice for defense secretary has drawn criticism from Hagel’s fellow Republicans — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the pick an “in your face nomination” and said Hagel is “out of the mainstream of the thinking on most issues regarding foreign policy.”

These accusations are outlandish. Graham’s definition of “mainstream” foreign policy does not line up with reality. As with many lawmakers, Hagel supports cuts to defense spending. As with many top military officials, he does not support war with Iran. As Obama did, Hagel did not support war in Iraq. These all seem to show “mainstream” thinking and make him a wise choice for Obama’s team.

Also sound picks are John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency and Jack Lew to head the Treasury Department. Brennan, now Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, worked at the CIA for 25 years and helped engineer the nation’s drone program. Lew is White House chief of staff and an expert on the federal budget.

Hopefully, Obama’s other selections will be as qualified and capable to represent us as this group.