There have been a number of articles recently about how cagey and even “Machiavellian” Obama is to pick Republicans like John McHugh for his cabinet. Here’s the Times for example:
“This Machiavellian strategy is pure Rahm,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former top House aide. “It is brilliant and it is painful for Republicans.”
The choice of Mr. McHugh, which was quickly followed by the selection of former Representative Jim Leach of Iowa, another Republican, as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is instructive.
Sensing an opportunity to get a strong candidate for one of the toughest Pentagon jobs while simultaneously sowing confusion among Republicans, the White House pursued Mr. McHugh, 60, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee whose district includes Fort Drum.
First of all, it’s not brilliant, it’s obvious. I have to believe that lots of presidents would have selected veteran lawmakers from the other side of the aisle if they could get these lawmakers to accept.
And that’s the point here — of course, sane Republicans are going to think hard about fleeing the party purges and ritual apologies to Rush. And, not to get all David Broder about this, but I believe that some of these guys really do want to serve the public interest and realize that putting out Pelosi Galore videos may not be the best way to do this.
In McHugh’s case, it’s worth noting that since 2004, every single respected member of the New York State delegation has left Congress (I’m speaking of Boehlert, Houghton, Reynolds, Walsh, and now McHugh). I doubt that it’s a coincidence.