Is President Obama stacking his cabinet with yes-men?

Critics say Obama is shutting out different points of view

Jacob Lew, who stepped in as President Obama's chief of staff last year, has been tapped to be the next treasury secretary.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

As President Obama begins to fill out the cabinet for his second term, prominent Republican senators have taken to expressing grave misgivings about several of his nominees. Liberals see the GOP's implied threats of drawn-out confirmation fights — which have already scuttled the presumed nomination of Susan Rice as secretary of state — as pure political opportunism that bucks the tradition of allowing the chief executive to staff the executive branch with people who will further his agenda. As Jamelle Bouie at The Washington Post succinctly put it, "If the GOP wants to pick cabinet members, then it should start by winning a presidential election."

In that respect, the GOP's charges that Obama is choosing "in-your-face" candidates make little sense. After all, Republicans can't demand that he choose nominees to the right of him. However, the current crop of candidates for his second-term cabinet does lack the "Team of Rivals" quality that defined his first-term cabinet, particularly in the early years. There was Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration who emerged as a formidable pillar of power in the Obama White House; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who commanded the loyalty of a huge chunk of the Democratic Party that was often wary of Obama; and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, another Bush-era official who was often accused by liberals of being too close to Wall Street.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Ryu Spaeth

Ryu Spaeth is deputy editor at Follow him on Twitter.