The Washington Post‘s Chris Cilizza has an absurd item about Bill Richardson emerging as a leading contender for commerce secretary. Apparently Penny Pritzker is out for some sort of thorny — crooked? — business dealings and, let’s not beat around the bush, Obama hasn’t appointed any Latinos to anything. Yet Richardson is a former U.N. ambassador and energy secretary and is currently the governor of a major southwestern state. The only non-demotive cabinet posts he can accept are at State and the Pentagon. Neither appears to be in the cards.
So you’ve got a thorny diversity question here, and we’ve already seen diversity questions get bitter and nasty. But I think there’s a way out of this. Commerce Secretary Matthew Yglesias.
Yglesias, like Barack Obama, is a mutt. Half-Richardson and half-Pritzker, he’s both Cuban and Jewish, and just ethnic-y enough to come off as authentic to both communities, while possessing a milky-white complexion that says to Middle America, "I’m not going to steal your wallet or overspice your food or guide you toward unsound investment opportunities." As the Flophouse resident in charge of rent collection, his policies were stern but fair, although his administration took a deeply regressive position on charging the least-employed tenant the highest amount of rent. It could become an issue at his confirmation hearings, although he can credibly object that he was merely implementing an agreed-upon decision.
But it’s not just his Latino-ness or his Jewishness that commends Yglesias to the position. Progressive bloggers are feeling disillusioned at the moment — not only over the prospect of a Hillary appointment to secretary of state, but to the fact that the only blogger to receive a high-level position so far is Peter Orszag, who, while being both a progressive and a blogger, is not exactly a progressive blogger. Yglesias is eagerly embraced by both the Atlantic and the Netroots Nation crowds. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Finally, you get someone who’s not afraid to take on the excesses in his own communities. Yglesias is a craven appeaser of both the Castro regime and the Palestinians. And he’s not intimidated by powerful netroots forces like Chris Bowers. Youthful indiscretions aside, Secretary Yglesias is change we can believe in.