Obama’s reported offer to Sanjay Gupta to be US Surgeon General seems to me to be a strong indication that, among other things, the administration will make a major push on health care. Here’s a guy who is known and (presumably) trusted by millions of people, who knows television, who has the best media connections available. I’d be stunned if he’s not front and center on the issue.
Tom Daschle is an extraordinarily skilled politician on Capitol Hill, but no one would call him a television natural. Thus, Daschle and Gupta could quite possibly be the Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside on health care.
It also reflects two other things about the Obama Administration:
1) Obama might have campaigned on Change, but when it comes to centralizing the policymaking apparatus in the White House, Obama is closely following his predecessor (albeit without VP Darth Vader). Summers is in the saddle on economic policy; Browner is running the show on energy and environment (although there will be titanic battles between the two of them); Valerie Jarrett will ride herd on everyone else; Leon Panetta figures to be the President’s man at CIA; Daschle may be HHS Secretary, but more importantly, he is White House Health Policy Advisor. Dubya’s first appointment was Colin Powell; Obama’s was Rahm Emanuel. Cabinet speculation is fun, but this will be an administration very much controlled from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And, as Yglesias has pointed out, this is good for the Jews.
2) If this goes through, it’s another example of Obama really diversifying the policymaking elite without anything seeming to be a diversity pick. The guy’s good.