Let’s Play Fantasy Baseball, Cabinet Version
I have never quite understood the allure of fantasy sports. Picking players from different teams based on past performance and your hunch of how they might play in the future on a team you create seems boring to me. As a kid, I do remember arguing with my older brother about whose baseball team was better. We’d go down the teams position by position and present our case. I was a Mets fan and he loved the Yankees. I still remember, at age 7, arguing that Ed Kranepool was a better first baseman than Mickey Mantle (I lost that argument.).
As we get closer to the November 8 elections, there is a different kind of fantasy game going on. So let’s throw out the first ball and begin playing a game I call Fantasy Baseball, Cabinet Version. The goal is to figure out who is likely to hold key positions in the Cabinet if Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected on November 8th?
Let’s start with Mrs. Clinton and take a look at the job of Secretary of Health & Human Services, the public face of the Administration on many issues ranging from AIDS to Zika and everything in between. Based on conversations with Washington insiders here’s our fantasy view of the potential choices Mrs. Clinton might ponder:
The incumbent, Sylvia Burwell, has a strong record, having come in to rescue HealthCare.gov and impose some discipline on the gigantic department. Burwell could stay on, but word is she wants something else. She’s already served as President Obama’s budget director but the rumor mill says she’s likely to be the nation’s first woman Treasury Secretary. Competing for Burwell’s job is an array of politicians and wonks.
The leading contender is Howard Dean. Former Governor of Vermont, former yelping candidate for President, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. When he was governor, Dean was one of the national leaders in pressing for more state flexibility on Medicaid. But what gives Dean an edge is the fact that he’s also a medical doctor. There’s a saying in DC, “White coats beat blue suits any day.” If Dean doesn’t get the job, there is a group of talented Washington insiders.
Neera Tanden, the CEO of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, is a long-time close advisor to Mrs. Clinton, having run policy development in her 2008 campaign, and earlier played a similar role in her Senate campaigns. Whip smart and well-connected, if she doesn’t get to be HHS Secretary, Tanden is likely to wind up on the White House staff, perhaps running the Domestic Policy Council.
Another whispered-about candidate is Nancy-Ann DeParle. Currently a Co-Founder, Founding Partner, and Partner at Consonance Capital, DeParle has been in high level positions for both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Her fingerprints are all over the Affordable Care Act. With a CV crammed with accomplishments, the big question is whether she wants to jump into the fray for a third time. My bet is she’ll be just as helpful and less exhausted advising from the outside.
Finally, while he is unlikely to be nominated for a Cabinet job, it is certain that Chris Jennings, who has advised Mrs. Clinton and her husband since 1993, will be a key player in any Clinton Administration. An encyclopedic mind, Jennings knows all of the players and has walked the halls of Congress and the White House. He also knows how to reach across the aisle, something Mrs. Clinton is said to favor.
Politics, like baseball, is a game of swings and misses with a few hits mixed in. So it’s good to remember that who is considered the leader now could be back on the bench later. But that’s the fun of fantasy baseball.
Next up: What would healthcare leadership look like under a President Trump?