President Barack Obama’s two latest choices for his Cabinetâ??one official and one almost sure to be named soon–are the latest signs that, in his second term, the president wants first and foremost an administration of close political associates he trusts and is comfortable with. Certainly, tapping Sally Jewell as secretary of the Interior and very likely naming Penny Pritzker as secretary of Commerce offer new evidence that, in contrast to what he considered in his first term a â??Cabinet of Rivalsâ? along the lines of Abraham Lincolnâ??s, Obama is now cobbling together a â??Cabinet of Cronies,â? along the lines of Franklin D. Rooseveltâ??s in 1933.
Interior Secretary-designate Jewell is touted by the White House largely because of her business background and experience as chief executive officer of Recreational Equipment, Inc. But, Jewell and husband Warren also, according to the New York Times, have made political contributions of of nearly $100,000 since the mide-1990s, almost exclusively to Democratic candidates and causes.â?
The 53-year-old Prtizker, whose family built the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, has been a family friend of the Obamas in Chicago since the 1990s. She was a key fundraiser in Obamaâ??s 2004 Senate race and led the fundraising for his 2008 presidential race. Her nomination to succeed Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank is expected to be announced Thursday or Friday.
Jewell and Pritzker follow a pattern of politically simpatico choices that include Secretary of State John Kerry, who gave candidate Obama a strong endorsement at a critical point in his 2008 nomination fight with Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, a Republican who all but endorsed Obama over John McCain in ’08. In many ways the latest choices are akin to those of FDR, who named a Cabinet made up exclusively of Democratic politicians who helped him become president, close associates from his New York governorship, and two Republicans for Roosevelt.