Bit of Brown in Obama’s cabinet?

Holbrooke '62 on short list for secretary of state

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Even before the presidential campaign was over, speculation flourished among political bloggers and media outlets over the next big question: Who would work in Barack Obama’s administration?

With President-elect Obama and his transition team preparing to announce major cabinet appointments in the coming weeks, several prominent figures with ties to Brown have been mentioned as candidates.

Among those who may trade the halls of academe for a government post is Richard Holbrooke ’62, professor-at-large at the Watson Institute for International Studies and a former Herald editor-in-chief, who is considered a top contender for secretary of state. Holbrooke, who served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1999 to 2001, has also been assistant secretary of state for Europe and for Asia, and helped broker the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia in 1995.

Holbrooke has been listed as one of the top three candidates for the position by Politico, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and Fox News, along with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has also recently been rumored as a possible pick.

“He’s on the short-list, no question about that,” said Professor James Morone, chair of the Department of Political Science.

“I have served the country that I love on and off since I graduated from college,” Holbrooke told The Dartmouth, that college’s student newspaper, last week. “And if the president-elect feels I can help him in any way, I will do so, and that is without any specific position in mind.”

Holbrooke could not be reached for comment by The Herald.

Another politician turned academic, Lincoln Chafee ’75, could also return to Washington – possibly as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Politico reported last month. A member of the grassroots organization Republicans for Environmental Protection, Chafee voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and served on the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works.

Chafee, now registered as an independent, served as the Republican senator from Rhode Island from 1999 to 2006 and has strong credentials as a political moderate. Presently a visiting fellow in international studies at the Watson Institute, he endorsed Obama this fall.

Chafee told The Herald earlier this month that he had not had any conversations with Obama’s transition team. “I’m certainly happy here, working at Watson,” he said. “We just can’t predict what might occur.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. P’07 is widely considered the leading candidate for the EPA post. Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and activist, is chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a clean-water advocacy group.

“I would be of service in any way that the administration asked me to be,” Kennedy told the Huffington Post the day after the election.

The Washington Post and Bloomberg News, among other news outlets, reported earlier this month that Obama was considering Kennedy for the position.

Brown faculty, administrators and alums could also join the next administration in lower-profile positions like undersecretaries and deputies of cabinet-level departments, Morone said.

“In the next couple of ranks down … Obama will tap lots of people who are bright, effective, but not very high-profile names,” Morone said.

“Those folks will make a lot of policy decisions and I’m betting we’ll see a lot of Brown folks at that level.”