Monday, December 15, 2008

Ken Salazar?

Color me unimpressed with Obama picking Ken Salazar as Interior Secretary. Salazar is a pretty conservative Democrat and I have trouble seeing him really taking on the oil and gas lobby or being as aggressive as environmentalists hoped the Interior Secretary would be in overturning the Bush legacy.

For me, this is one of the two cabinet level positions I am looking at to get a sense of how progressive Obama is really going to be. Along with Labor, Interior is a vitally important post that doesn't quite get the scrutiny of the top level positions. I can deal with Bob Gates at Defense, but I was hoping he would show more progressive leanings with these positions.

I was really hoping for either Raul Grijalva of Arizona or John Kitzhaber of Oregon in the post. Grijalva would have filled the need for more Latinos in top level positions, brought a really progressive agenda to the position, and have gained significant public recognition, at least in comparison to the House seat he holds now. Kitzhaber, the former governor of Oregon, is a lover of the outdoors, has significant and very successful executive experience, and is much beloved in his home state.

Meanwhile, Salazar is probably the worst western Democratic Senator (though Max Baucus might have something to say about that). At least Colorado has a Democratic governor, so Salazar's position will stay in the party. His brother John is a likely replacement, though he isn't much better than his brother. That's fine for a senator from a relatively conservative state, but for the most important cabinet position on environmental issues, it's not so great.