I’m in a bipartisan mood, although I’m sure it won’t last long.
But as long as it does, I should mention that if he wins, it might well behoove a President Obama to keep Henry Paulson on as Treasury Secretary. No one really knows what to do about the financial meltdown, but Paulson seems to have the confidence of the markets as well as anyone, and seems to be doing as competent a job as can be done about it.
Paulson also comes with credentials that any Democratic President should like. He’s a strong environmentalist, who has spoken out loudly on the climate change issue, and has hired some very smart people at the Treasury (such as Resources for the Future’s William Pizer) to work on the issue. He puts his money where his mouth is, at least to some extent: his campaign contributions are almost universally Republican, but he has given several thousand dollars to the League of Conservation Voters PAC. Interestingly, shortly after becoming Treasury Secretary, Paulson also said that one of his priorities was narrowing economic inequality; I don’t know how sincere he is about that, but most Republicans think that even mentioning it is akin to Marxism.
Moreover, it’s useful that Paulson seems to have excellent contacts and working relationships with China, which will be America’s most challenging bilateral relationship for the next decades.
When John Kennedy became President, he installed Republican Douglas Dillon in Cabinet. Which position? Treasury. If Paulson can be loyal to a President Obama, it’s something to strongly consider.