Cabinet May Indicate Obama's Governing Philosophy

President-elect Barack Obama is putting together his Cabinet. He has said the Republican Party would be represented. Obama's choices may reveal a lot about his governing philosophy.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. We've been learning a little bit more about how President-elect Barack Obama intends to govern. Last night, in his first lengthy interview since his election, Obama told CBS what kind of administration he's trying to put together.

(Soundbite of Obama interview on CBS News program "60 Minutes")

President-elect BARACK OBAMA: What I don't want to do is get bottled up in a lot of ideology and, you know, is this conservative or liberal? My interest is finding something that works. And whether it's coming from FDR or it's coming from Ronald Reagan, if the idea is right for the times, then we're going to apply it. And things that don't work, we're going to get rid of.

INSKEEP: That's President-elect Barack Obama speaking on "60 Minutes." We're joined now, as we are most Mondays, by NPR's Cokie Roberts. Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So, what's known so far about who Barack Obama is going to ask to join him in that administration?

ROBERTS: Well, it is very interesting that he's making those statements about sort of nonpartisanship. And he is meeting today with his opponent - former opponent - Senator John McCain, not to talk about cabinet appointments, we are led to believe, but just to get some advice and do some fence mending. He's already met with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, another former opponent in the Democratic primaries, and, of course, famously, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, his most ardent opponent in the Democratic primaries.

And both the Clinton and Obama camps seem to be saying that she is interested in the job of secretary of state, which has apparently been offered to her. So the big question is what about Bill Clinton? He has a foundation that is basically a global - as it's called - Global Initiative. It is a large, essentially non-governmental organization with dealings around the world, receiving contributions from foreign entities. Also his library, presidential library, has received such contributions. And he makes speeches around the world for a lot of money. So this is something that the camps are trying to sort out and see if they can make this happen.

INSKEEP: A lot of potential, and maybe some potential conflicts, but certainly a lot to talk about there. And also...

ROBERTS: And some interesting choices there.

INSKEEP: Yeah, yeah. And also, there's some talk of a man who defended Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial.

ROBERTS: Well, Greg Craig, an old Clinton friend, a former Clinton friend, is being discussed as White House legal counsel. But Craig became a huge Obama supporter. In fact, he is the person who really went on the attack against Hillary Clinton on her claims of foreign policy experience - scathing attacks. And he had been in the State Department. So that could be a little bit dicey, but there would be lots on his plate as White House counsel without him stepping over into the foreign policy arena. There are other people who served in the Clinton administration who are coming into the White House or reportedly coming into the White House. And that is an interesting set of choices for Barack Obama.

But look, Steve, what we're dealing with here is a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, in recent years having been in the White House and having had a successful administration. When Clinton came to office, it had been decades since that had been the case. And so he had to assemble a new team. What Barack Obama has is basically a lot of Democrats who have been a government in waiting, a government in exile, many of them as lobbyists. And so the reaction here in Washington, of course, is this is normal. Whether the net roots, the people who were such ardent supporters of Obama out in the country, feel good about all these Clintonites coming into the new administration is another question.

INSKEEP: Cokie Roberts, let's look briefly at another place where we might find a clue to the way that Barack Obama is thinking. The president-elect didn't attend this international financial meeting in Washington over the weekend. He says there's one president at a time. It's not him. But he did send a couple of representatives to that meeting.

ROBERTS: Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, and Jim Leach, a Republican - former Republican congressman who was chairman of the Banking Committee and headed Republicans for Obama. These are very safe choices that didn't seem to send any kind of special signal as the G-20, as it was called, did its business in Washington. And Obama is making the same kind of decision about the lame-duck session of Congress coming back today. He has resigned his Senate seat as of yesterday, and he will wait until the new Congress and his new presidency to really try to affect policy there.

INSKEEP: OK, thanks very much. That's NPR's Cokie Roberts with analysis on this Monday morning. And now let's hear more about that lame-duck session.

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