Shadow Government

Mitt Romney’s dream team: Assembling the GOP cabinet

With two months to go before the election, it’s never too early to start one of Washington’s favorite post-election parlor-games: assembling a dream cabinet. Who should be the next Secretary of State? Defense? National Security Advisor? The answer is, of course, David Petraeus. Given my earlier advocacy for Petraeus as vice president, readers will be ...

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With two months to go before the election, it’s never too early to start one of Washington’s favorite post-election parlor-games: assembling a dream cabinet. Who should be the next Secretary of State? Defense? National Security Advisor?

The answer is, of course, David Petraeus. Given my earlier advocacy for Petraeus as vice president, readers will be unsurprised by my suggestion that the president simply call up the good general and ask him what job he wants. Unfortunately, reproductive human cloning is neither legal nor fast enough to grow enough Petraeus’ to fill the cabinet, so we will have to find a few others to fill some of the top roles.

These views are, of course, my own (and somewhat tongue-in-cheek at that). The Cable had an interesting article on the potential Romney cabinet last month based on "interviews" with "sources." Unlike the folks at The Cable, I was trained as an analyst at the CIA. This article is based on nothing but speculation and Google. Here is just a short list of folks whom we might see in Senate confirmation hearings next spring. These are not my endorsements so much as my guesses as to whom might get the pick.

National Security Advisor Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general and former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, is listed as one of the Romney team’s advisors. He probably knows the defense and intelligence worlds better than most people alive, and would be a strong pick for National Security Advisor. Barring that, he would also make a good Director of National Intelligence. Also, he knows lots of things that he could tell us, but then he’d have to kill us. Con: His four stars were in the air force (go Army!). Plus, he’s tied closely to the alleged wiretapping program at the NSA, making him a lightning rod for partisan attack, something a new administration may want to avoid.

Secretary of State John Negroponte. With five separate stints as an ambassador (to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, Iraq, and the U.N.), as Deputy Secretary of State, and as first Director of National Intelligence, Negroponte has the kind of resume that you get when you’ve spent five decades in the federal bureaucracy. His wide experience makes him a candidate to head the State Department. Plus, he had the good sense to drop out of Harvard Law. Con: He spent five decades in the federal bureaucracy. Also, a new birther movement will spring up around the fact that he was born in London, making his loyalties suspect.

Secretary of Treasury Bob Zoellick. Another Romney advisor and former Deputy Secretary of State, Zoellick also served as U.S. Trade Representative, Undersecretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, in several positions at the Treasury Department, and most recently as President of the World Bank. His selection as Secretary of State would be a sop to those fuzzy-headed softies who think economics are a legitimate concern for international diplomacy, rather than guns, power, and honor, as all real IR scholars know. Or he might be shunted off to head the Treasury Department, where the pointy heads belong. Con: the mustache. Zoellick is obviously a highly-trained covert operative hiding behind the mustached guise of an academic. The problem: It’s too obvious. He needs better cover; perhaps a full beard.

Secretary of Defense John McCain. The Chuck Norris of Senators. Member of the Armed Services Committee, Vietnam veteran and POW. McCain was prescient on Iraq, calling for a surge long before anyone else. He has been a champion of American power and democracy abroad and, more recently, a principled opponent of "enhanced interrogation." He’s the original Maverick and would make a heluva Secretary of Defense. Con: He’s the original Maverick. He’s conservative by disposition, not ideology, and therefore is sometimes inconsistent.

Secretary of Defense John Warner (in case the first one doesn’t work out). Three-time chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner is far more interesting than his Senate title suggests. He is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, a former Marine, and former Secretary of the Navy. Warner is one of the senior statesmen of the Republican Party and was a true eminence grise on foreign policy and is well-qualified to head the Pentagon. Plus, he was Elizabeth Taylor’s sixth husband, which has to be worth something. Con: Before his distinguished service in the Korean War as a Marine, he served in World War II in the Navy (go Army). More to the point, he left the Senate in 2009 and may be uninterested in returning to public life. After two wars and decades in the Senate, how much more can your country ask of you?

These are only a few of the many stellar lights of the Republican foreign policy establishment waiting to go nova the moment Romney clinches victory. Who are your picks?

Paul D. Miller is a professor of the practice of international affairs at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He served as director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2007 through 2009. Twitter: @PaulDMiller2 ‏

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