Obama Considering Appointment of Centrist Dem & Alberto Gonzalez Supporter as Interior Secretary

December 15, 2008

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This article in the Denver Post (DP) indicates that President-elect Obama may be preparing to announce the appointment of Colorado Senator Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior. According to the DP piece,

“U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar is a leading contender to become President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of the Interior, two sources have confirmed.”

News of a possible Salazar appointment will likely stir continued discussion that about the “Clintonization” of the Obama cabinet. By appointing Salazar, a member of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council (also see DLC website) Obama would probably also draw strong criticism from progressive and Latino constituencies for the Colorado Senator’s controversial positions.

Salazar’s most high profile media moment since being elected Senator in 2004 came during the 2005 Senate confirmation hearings of then-Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales . Salazar, who was one of 6 of Democrats supporting the Gonzalez nomination, accompanied, sat next to and spoke on behalf of Gonzales as he (Gonzales) was bombarded by questions about the now infamous torture memos he wrote, which are widely believed to have enabled the acts of humiliation and torture perpetrated at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons. While several Republican and Democratic Senators, including Sens. Kennedy, Leahy and Judiciary Committee Chair Specter voiced repudiation and disgust about Gonzales’ role, Salazar smiled and said, “It is also an honor and privilege for me to appear before you this morning to make an introduction of Judge Alberto Gonzales” adding that he thought that “…Gonzales is better qualified than many recent attorneys general.”

And after voting in the full Senate to confirm Gonzales, Salazar, like the leaders of National Council of La Raza, LULAC and other Latino Gonzales supporters, remained silent about the many scandals at the Justice Department – controversial policies around torture, the right of habeas corpus, and the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. Only after the scandals and criticism surrounding Gonzales and the Justice Department rose to massive levels did Salazar call for Gonzales to resign in May of this year.

A Salazar appointment will likely not do much to satiate concerns about what progressives worry are the overly-centrist Obama appointments to date. Salazar has draw strong criticism among progressives for several of the positions he has take including his support of the Patriot Act and his support for the candidacy of Conn. Senator Joe Lieberman in his 2006 race against popular progressive Ned Lamont.

5 Responses to “Obama Considering Appointment of Centrist Dem & Alberto Gonzalez Supporter as Interior Secretary”

  1. vickif Says:

    Salazar is a token choice, likely being asked because to pick Thompson or Grijalva would create a line in the sand for conservation groups.
    Salazar is ill equiped and lacks the momentum that is so desperately needed in this position. He is a middle of the road settler, with no vision and lacking the strength to stand up to ranchers and oil industry.
    Obama had a candiadate that was ideal in Grijalva, and he is sticking a sub-standard token hispanic into a position, to placate the minority groups and big enviro groups. The DOI desperately needed a stand up guy….and Salazar is not him.

  2. sagebrush Says:

    WOW! What a big disappointment this is. Salazar is an enabler of Gonzalez, and a cowboy-hatted Good Old Boy to boot. Haven’t we just had 8 years of this???

  3. Tim Says:

    As a Denver resident who campaigned for Democrat Mike Miles against Salazar when he first ran for the Senate and who has regretted his tenure even though having reluctantly voted for him, I would welcome his move to Interior.

    His selection would, first and foremost, remove him from the Senate and put him in a position where he actually would be a vast improvement over the current regime.

    Also, one likely choice to replace him as Senator, outgoing Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, would be an even greater upgrade in representing the best interests of both Colorado and the nation.


  4. [...] Obama Considering Appointment of Centrist Dem & Alberto Gonzalez .Salazar’s most high profile media moment since being elected Senator in 2004 came during the 2005 Senate confirmation hearings of then-Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales . Salazar, who was one of 6 of Democrats supporting the . [...]

  5. Stefan Says:

    Very good article. Amazed you waded through that amount ot text to get to the truth.


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