Obama tapped Governor Napolitano in hopes that her political skills would serve her well in dealing with Congress. But Republicans never warmed to her and even some Democrats didn’t like her oversight of ICE and other immigration issues. If the president is seeking another political pro, O’Malley would probably be his choice. And giving a boost to the Maryland governor’s presidential aspirations would be a satisfying way to stick it to the Clintons, although we hope that wouldn’t be near the top of the list of reasons to appoint him.
Bill Bratton has extensive experience, having been a police commissioner in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. But Ray Kelly would bring some unique qualifications to the job, as John Avalon points out:
Democrats retain residual distrust when it comes to national-security issues. True, that traditional gap has closed in part due to the killing of Osama bin Laden, but like Bill Clinton before him, Obama carries the baggage that comes from being a commander in chief who never served in the military. Ray Kelly was a Marine colonel in Vietnam before embarking on his long career in the NYPD, receiving a law degree and Kennedy School study on his way through the ranks. Kelly also played a leading role at Interpol. Moreover, he is better known nationally than Napolitano when she took the position in Obama’s first term. Unkind “Big Sis” characterizations aside, Kelly would communicate considerably more credibility than the former governor of Arizona, who always seemed like more of a political payback and diversity play in the cabinet office least suited to either.
Kelly would walk into the job ready to lead and bringing an informed perspective on the essential roles and responsibilities of the department. In the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, he would inspire confidence among citizens as well as front-line first responders. This is invaluable and something a current DHS second in command, no matter how capable, would find difficult to match.
Kelly also would enjoy bi-partisan support during his confirmation, as many Republicans have expressed admiration for him during his tenure in New York — the longest in history.
But Obama is under fire from Hispanics, women, and blacks about his choices for cabinet replacements during his second term. This may not bode well for another white male to join the president’s cabinet.