Potentially strong cabinet moves

POTENTIALLY STRONG CABINET MOVES…. All of the usual caveats apply, most notably the fact that rumors about cabinet moves do not constitute reliable pieces of information. All of this is subject to change, and none of this has been confirmed by the transition team. Grains of salt for everyone.

That said, if these credible reports are accurate, I’m very encouraged by some of the names who may be joining Barack Obama’s cabinet. Here’s the latest report on the would-be Attorney General.

President-elect Obama has decided to tap Eric Holder as his attorney general, putting the veteran Washington lawyer in place to become the first African-American to head the Justice Department, according to two legal sources close to the presidential transition.

Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal “vetting” review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. […]

Holder, 57, has been on Obama’s “short list” for attorney general from the outset. A partner at the D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, Holder served as co-chief (along with Caroline Kennedy) of Obama’s vice-presidential selection process…. A New York City native who graduated from Columbia University and Columbia Law School, Holder spent years as a federal prosecutor—a job in which he earned a reputation as tough and aggressive foe of public corruption. After serving in the public integrity section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and later a District of Columbia Superior Court judge, Holder was named by President Clinton as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. He became deputy attorney general in 1997 under Janet Reno and was viewed as a centrist on most law enforcement issues, though he has sharply criticized the secrecy and the expansive views of executive power advanced by the Bush Justice Department.

The AP reports that Obama aides have already reached out to Senate offices about whether Holder’s confirmation would go smoothly.

Everything I know of Holder is positive (check out this speech he delivered to the American Constitution Society a few years ago). He’s universally respected and as a former deputy AG, knows a bit about how the Justice Department is supposed to work. And after eight years of Bushies trashing the joint, that’s an important skill to bring to the table. (No, don’t pay any mind to that Marc Rich issue.)

Moreover, while the OMB is technically not part of the cabinet, its director is considered cabinet level, and Peter Orszag would be a fine choice.

President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to tap Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag, once a veteran economic adviser in the Clinton White House, to become his budget director, according to several National Journal sources. The Office of Management and Budget job — seen as a key post to help Obama deliver on his domestic policy agenda amidst the gloom of a $700 billion federal financial rescue, a recession and the prospects of a $1 trillion deficit next year — carries Cabinet rank. […]

Orszag, who will turn 40 on Dec. 16, has been praised by lawmakers from both parties as an objective analyst with deep knowledge of the most pressing fiscal issues of the day, including health care policy, Social Security, pensions, and global climate change. He is the unusual economist who blends an understanding of politics, policy and communications in ways that wrap zesty quotes around complex ideas.

I’m a big Orszag fan, and I’d be thrilled to see him at OMB.

Here’s hoping today’s rumors are true.