Imagine The West Wing was remade for the Obama era. Who would the main characters be based on?by James Crabtree / October 31, 2008 / Leave a comment
Imagine The West Wing was remade for the Obama era. Who would the main characters be based on? Leo McGarry, it seems, would be Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a politician and former political fixer pegged to be Obama’s Chief of Staff.
Emanuel is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, he comes from one of those accomplished families – like the Powells in the UK – whose every sibling seems off-puttingly gifted. Emanuel’s brother, Ari, is a famous LA talent agent, and the inspiration behind a character, also called Ari, on the HBO series Entourage. His other brother, Ezekiel, is merely a “noted oncologist and bioethicist.” Rham used to be an advisor to Clinton, before more recently being elected as a Congressman in Obama’s home start of Illinois. Once there, he played a leading role in the 2006 Democrat take-over of Congress, and wrote a fairly interesting book called The Plan, laying out a new policy direction for the party. (A pretty blatant British rip-off, also called The Plan and also featuring a scaffolding cover motif, will be reviewed in next month’s Prospect by Peter Oborne.) But most, pertinent to the discussion of Emanuel’s playing Leo in a remake of the West Wing, is the fact that he was also the inspiration for the character of Josh Lyman in the original series.
Such Rahm-related gossip about plum jobs in an Obama administration will continue in coming weeks. The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn recently did an excellent overview of his most prominent wonks, and even included a handy map of their relationships. And not to be outdone, Prospect‘s own DC insider – known as “Tumbler”, after President Bush’s secret service handle – speculated in the current edition about who might get what……
Who’d be in Obama’s cabinet?
Ambitious senior Democrats have been googling an Obama town hall meeting held in New Hampshire in December 2007, back in those distant days when Clinton was the frontrunner. At this meeting, Obama talked about the need for bipartisanship and how, if elected, he’d like to appoint Republicans to his cabinet.
Although Obama said it was too early to give names, when pressed he had some ready. A possible secretary of state was Indiana Senator Dick Lugar, who “embodies the tradition of a bipartisan foreign policy that is sensible, that is not ideological, that is based on the idea that we have to have some humility and restraint in terms of our ability to project power around the world.” A potential secretary of defence was Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam vet and early critic of the Iraq war. And there was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “What he’s doing on climate change in California is very important.”
Since then Obama has also mooted keeping on Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a career CIA analyst who is more technocrat than Republican loyalist, and making billionaire Warren Buffet secretary of the treasury. But for Dems like former UN ambassador Dick Holbrooke and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who both ache to be secretary of state) and General Wes Clarke (who thinks the Pentagon should be his), talk of appointing Republicans is pure agony. The current betting is Richardson for state, Hagel for the Pentagon, Daschle for White House chief of staff and Schwarzenegger for energy. Then ex-Marine General Tony Zinni for national security adviser, Susan Rice for UN ambassador and party chairman Howard Dean for health and human services.
The treasury job had been pencilled in for Laura Tyson, who chaired Bill Clinton’s council of economic advisers. She is still favourite, but post-meltdown there is talk of Tim Geithner, who runs the Fed in New York. Even likelier is New Jersey governor and former Goldman Sachs co-chairman Jon Corzine. As chairman of the Democratic senatorial campaign committee in 2004, Corzine ensured that Obama got the Senate nomination in Illinois. A dark horse is Sheila Bair, a moderate Republican who has done a first-rate job running the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.