While I’m talking about Republicans in an Obama cabinet, there is one position above all others that it would make sense to me to fill with a Republican; the Attorney Generalship.
It is probably unlikely that Obama, with his focus on civil rights law and the general reluctance of Democrats to give up the position of the country’s top lawyer, will actually appoint a Republican to the AG position, but he would be smart to do so.
Given the incredible politicization of the Bush Justice Department one of the top priorities of an Obama administration will have to be reasserting the non-partisan tradition of the department. Part of that will be done just by replacing the political appointees with people who view the Justice Department as a non-partisan institution. However, part of it, which is sure to draw howls of protests from Republicans, will have to involve weeding out the blatantly political hires who now populate career positions at the department.
Getting rid of the partisan Republicans who now populate the Justice Department will be hard. Republicans on Capitol Hill will inevitably respond that Obama is just firing Republicans to hire Democrats and that he is politicizing the Department even more.
The best way to counteract that would be to have a known Republican as Attorney General. The only big question is who could work. Most prominent Republicans have spent the last 8 years either actively abetting the Bush administration on legal issues or burrying their heads in the sand. Of those who haven’t been as terrible Arlen Specter jumps to mind for opposing the stripping of habeas corpus rights, but his crusades about professional sports would make him a joke of a candidate.
The only other name who jumps to mind is Patrick Fitzgerald, the US Attorney from Chicago who prosecuted Scooter Libby. He’s a registered Republican who was appointed by Bush, but he has been incredibly independent and has an unimpeachable reputation and a record of going after corrupt government officials and the mob. As with any appointment to an Obama cabinet he would have to be willing to implement Obama’s policy agenda, but the way he has always done his job suggests he would be more than able of doing the job well.