EXPECT A STOCKED CABINET BY CHRISTMAS…. Shortly after the election, Obama’s transition team indicated that we probably wouldn’t hear about any cabinet selections until after Thanksgiving. That changed a bit as the economic crisis worsened, and Obama introduced Tim Geithner as the next Secretary of the Treasury.

But what about the rest of the 15-member cabinet? John Podesta, the head of the transition team, told Bloomberg News that the cabinet selections will be “virtually” complete by Christmas. (via Halperin)

Podesta, a former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, also said Obama would complete “virtually the whole Cabinet” by Christmas, and the new president’s team will reach beyond the Democratic Party.

There will be “multiple Republicans” in the administration,” Podesta said. “You’ll see them spread throughout the administration.”

Obama, who is further along in making key appointments than any of his recent predecessors were at this point in the transition period, is expected to announce his national security team next week. It will be led by Senator Hillary Clinton, his erstwhile rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, as secretary of state and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Having to wait until Christmas to learn about the cabinet selections may seem like a lengthy delay, but the opposite is true — we’ll know the cabinet members nearly a month before the inauguration, which will be far ahead of the pace set by any recent president.

As for “multiple Republicans,” I didn’t hear the context of the quote, but it’s worth noting that having Republicans in “the administration” is not the same thing as having Republicans in “the cabinet.”

If I had to guess, I’d keep an eye on Chuck Hagel, Jim Leach, and Colin Powell as the leading Republican possibilities, who Obama would likely to want to have on his team in some capacity.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.