Obama’s Cabinet Choices – Fantasy League Style

Here are my picks for the key Cabinet posts both for cleantech and the country – if we REALLY want change we can believe in:

Secretary of StateColin Powell. My longtime pick for the first non white President. He should have run. From either party. He would have had my vote. Smart, collected, and still the most seasoned international military and political mind since Eisenhower, as well as a free trader. Bush should have listened to Powell rather than Cheney. Bring him back. Or give him any position he’s willing to take.

Secretary of EnergyDaniel Yergin – Pulitzer prize winning author of The Prize, the seminal work on the history of the oil industry, and Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. The energy sector is going to take a serious thinker to overhaul. The last thing we need is a johnny come lately with a shiny copper penny plan. Yergin knows the business, knows the politics, and knows the people.

Secretary of the TreasuryDick Kovacevich, the retiring Chairman of Wells Fargo – one of the few well run major banks in the US who did not need government handouts. And not from Wall Street. And my bank since I turned 18. If you can get him. Would I leave one of the healthiest bank balance sheets in the world to take over the US Treasury post a trillion dollar bailout? Not a chance. But we can hope.

Attorney GeneralRudy Guiliani. Love him or hate him, he’s a former Democrat early in his career, only later a Republican, who made his name as a US Attorney going after corruption in organized crime and Wall Street before running a consitituency that’s larger than more than half the US states. What more do you want out of a good attorney general?

Secretary of Defense – Actually, I’d keep Robert Gates. I think Defense has been doing a yeoman’s job.

Head of the EPABill Richardson. EPA with climate change is going to take an energy expert who understands economics, industry, and politics but who is committed to the cause. I can think of none better. He may view it as a step down. I view it as a critical position that needs as strong a hand as we can find.

Note: After writing this I was a little disappointed to realize that no women made my list, especially since I have worked for a woman for the last decade. But after review, I really liked the picks I’ve made.

Neal Dikeman is the Chairman and CEO of Carbonflow, Inc., a partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, and Chairman of Cleantech.org. He is a Texas Aggie living in San Francisco.

16 replies
  1. Jeff Kingzett
    Jeff Kingzett says:

    Bill Richardson for EPA Director? HECK NO!!! During the Democratic primaries he was openly covetous of the fresh water of the Great Lakes for his bone-dry home state of New Mexico? Diverting Great Lakes freshwater to the southwest does not sound like my idea of environmental protection.

  2. SLaB
    SLaB says:

    Nice picks! I think Colin Powell doesn't seem interested in being so involved again. I've heard him speak, and I think he's happy to be home with his family. But we'll keep our fingers crossed he'll take some position! Rudy – sure… that would give Obama some "reaching across the aisle" clout! Looking forward to the future! – Beverly Garrity (http://iamslab.blogspot.com/)

  3. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    As a retired military officer concerned not just for our country but the planet, I think your picks are first rate. Free trade vs protectionist instincts will be a major tension in the next few years and could seriously weaken Obama's hold on his base. One thing is essential: we need more rational and factual thinking about the true total costs of various things like energy and water that include all the cost elements, not just the costs of extraction, refining, shipping and distributing. Pollution, health costs, security, etc. are estimated to add several dollars to the cost of each gallon of gasoline. Instead, we not just coddle Big Oil, we subsidize it and ignore all the ancillary costs.The real question mark is Congress: there are too many ‘third rail' problems that they just don't want to think about.

  4. dahveed
    dahveed says:

    I follow your blog, and your selection of Daniel Yergin is disheartening. While The Prize is certainly a great resource, it misses a lot of key U.S. energy policy history that actually put us in this situation of oil dependence. Furthermore, Yergin seems not to understand peak oil at all. I could go on and on, suffice to say that last year he dismissed that idea that oil would go over $80. Suffice to say oil went to almost $150 and helped cause a recession. The wrong-headed thinking of Yergin and others will keep us in a boom and bust situation with oil, and keep padding the coffers of his consulting firm, while spreading the misery all around America. I cannot think of a worse choice for energy secretary…

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Daniel Yergin is a cheerleader for the oil crowd. He is not a thinker. Far from it. He is a peak oil denier and a pollyanna. If there was any one person you would pick to botch things up and botch them good, you would pick Daniel Yergin. He is the head lemming barreling for the cliff. If you really want competent, go for Matthew Simmons, head of Simmons Co., world's largest energy investment bank and member of the vice president's 2000 energy task force. Look for his writings on his web site. If I were you, I would also look up the "Hirsch Report," a 2005 DoE sponsored examination of peak oil. Please take the time to become better informed.

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    So…then…what does qualify Yergin to be the secretary of energy?Knowing the right people got us into this mess in the first place. And, if you want to FIX energy…you definitely DON'T need an OIL MAN. The future for oil is FINITELY limited.Think.

  7. Yokota Fritz
    Yokota Fritz says:

    Huh?You pick Yergin because of his expertise in the energy business, Anon points out Yergin is consistently wrong about the economics of energy, and your response is "it doesn't matter"??– Another Bay Area Texas Aggie.

  8. Yokota Fritz
    Yokota Fritz says:

    I should detail a little of where I'm coming from. Yergin & CERA are very much a part of the problem we have in the United States. He's firmly in the camp that believes the United States can and should drill itself out of any energy shortage, while ignoring the fact that record spending on exploration has allowed producers to just barely make up for the loss of production in existing fields.Yergin is not a serious thinker in the field — he's stuck in the old "Drill Baby Drill" paradigm. His political knowledge? It was Yergin's expertise that convinced Clinton to finance construction of a pipeline through Georgia to bypass Russia influence, and we saw how well that worked out.You might want to see how much the oil industry actually respects the analysis from CERA.

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    More to the point, Yergin is in denial about peak oil. He insists that somehow supply will magically come from somewhere, but as best anyone can tell it is all wishful thinking.

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Neal, what would you base your choice on, if not past history of having an idea which direction the industry is going? Yergin has been consistently wrong on production for a decade. Can we please get someone who understands the big picture a little better?

  11. Greenlight
    Greenlight says:

    Wells Fargo? That's a joke, right? Have you even bothered to check on Bloomberg the scale of toxic exposure they're still hiding under the seemingly bland balance sheet category of "Level 3 Assets" — it's to the tune of $23 billion? By any objective measure, they're currently exceedingly close to the precipice, and only WaMu and IndyMac and Citigroup have had even more insane levels of exposure. And Yergin has no imagination for renewables. None. Ask any New Mexican, and you'll get the TRUE backstory on Bill Richardson. He's abetted a lot of corruption in the state's political system, and he's Clintonesque in his private affairs. The only person I can partly agree with you on is Colin Powell, but not because he knows what the military needs. He's old school, and has been consistently against enhancing stabilization competencies in the US military ever since the 1980s. It's exactly that kind of thinking that left the military in such absolutely sorry shape when they got to Baghdad. Remember the "Superpowers don't do windows" triumphalist BS in the 1990s? If there's one attitude the military itself knows it wants buried, it's that. I'm disappointed. It's one thing to say, "I think they'd be on the short list because they're the press' golden boys." It's another to delve into their capacity for critical judgment.

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