Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Cabinet May Be the Key to Clinton's Second-Term Agenda

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Cabinet May Be the Key to Clinton's Second-Term Agenda

Article excerpt

On his way back to Washington from Little Rock, Ark., on Wednesday, President Bill Clinton told reporters that it was too early to talk of new faces for his second administration and that for now "we just want to savor what happened" in the election.

Fat chance.

By the time he landed at Andrews Air Force Base, the wire services had already moved stories confirming that four of Clinton's most senior associates are submitting their resignations: Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher, Secretary of Defense William Perry, Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor and White House chief of staff Leon Panetta. At least a half a dozen more top officials will follow suit in the days ahead, White House aides say, some of them by choice and some with a gentle nudge. The replacements Clinton chooses, and the process he follows, will tell a great deal about both the president's priorities and his commitment to the nonpolitical government he promised in his victory speech Tuesday night. Here are three possible scenarios - the names that might surface and the strategies they might suggest. Co-opt And Conquer Bob Dole says Clinton spent most of this year governing as a Republican, on issues that ranged from tough talk on crime to welfare reform. There's plenty of incentive in keeping it up, including diverting congressional Republicans from their investigations on everything from Whitewater to campaign finance and the alleged White House abuse of FBI files. Clear signals would be the appointment to senior jobs of Republicans such as Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., or just-retired Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, either of whom could be a plausible secretary of defense or state. Clinton might even go for the big kahuna, enticing former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell out of retirement. The appointment of any of them would smooth Clinton's way in dealing with Capitol Hill. To take an even more imaginative route, Clinton might move immediately on the pledges he has made to reform Medicare and campaign finance. What if he recruited Bob Dole to take on Medicare, as head of a bipartisan commission, and Ross Perot to do the same on campaign finance? Organized labor wouldn't be happy and neither would most incumbent Democrats, but a strategy that bold would go far toward defanging Republican critics. Hang Tough In the Clinton high command some advisers believe there is no stopping the coming Republican inquisition and that Clinton, now that he's fallen short on recapturing control of Congress, has only the option of hunkering down. The most vivid signal that the administration is taking this route would be the nomination of Kantor as either attorney general or White House chief of staff. His ambition for those jobs is well-known - as is the obstacles he would face winning Senate confirmation. …

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