The Houston Chronicle reports that Sheila Jackson Lee, the loquacious Congresswoman from Houston, is being recommended as a future Cabinet Secretary, specifically the Secretary of Homeland Security, in President Obama’s second term cabinet. The previous Secretary of Homeland Secretary (hereafter, “SOHS”), Janet Napolitano, recently announced she would leave office at the end of August to become the Chancellor of the University of California system.
While the President has not made any public comments on this post, it has not stopped others from speculating, pontificating and recommending. Now, since Obama has been accused of a lack of diversity in some recent cabinet posts (Kerry, Hagel, Lew, etc), groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus have been suggesting nominees of their own. Initially, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) was being spotlighted, but he soon ruled out the idea. This led to Jackson Lee.
The CBC has formally recommended her to the President. I am not sure how recently this happened, but I have not heard Jackson Lee say anything one way or another on the topic. The Chronicle article promises to update when they have more information on the topic.
First of all, I thought I had some sort of deal that this seat wouldn’t open up until I was at least 25 (jokes). Any way you look at it, an open election for the 18th District would be the biggest free-for-all
disaster, politically speaking, in my lifetime. The modern incarnation of the 18th District has never had a truly open election. Barbara Jordan faced little opposition to take the seat in 1972, and by the time she retired in 1978, everyone and their mother knew Mickey Leland would be next in line. After Leland’s tragic death, in 1989, Craig Washington did face Anthony Hall in the Special Election, but Washington was always somewhat favored. Jackson Lee then challenged, and beat, Washington in the 1994 primary. There has never been a regular open election in this seat, so it is quite overdue.
This all hinges upon the idea, though, that President Obama will nominate Jackson Lee and the Senate will confirm her. That is a long shot. Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a controversial figure, to say the least. Personally, there are plenty of good and redeeming qualities I have found in the Congresswoman, but they are not the qualities that make one a decent Cabinet secretary.
To be blunt, Sheila Jackson Lee likes to talk, and naturally, being a garrulous individual means plenty of slip-ups. Such slip ups would embarrass an administration, especially if they ran counter to the administration’s position. Additionally, Jackson Lee is significantly more liberal/libertarian than the President on foreign policy. For example, she voted against the Patriot Act, FISA Acts, etc. She did, however, vote against the recent Amash amendment.
Finally, Jackson Lee, because of these slip-ups and the unabashed liberalism, is a favorite for ridicule and denigration by the right wing. This would be a mighty hard confirmation battle for the President. If history has taught us one thing, it is that President Obama is a pathetic eunuch who will avoid battles and all types of confrontation at any cost. This would make the prospect of Jackson Lee getting nominated dead on arrival more than anything else.
All of these qualities make her a good Congresswoman, resulting in a good present situation for Jackson Lee. That glossy present situation could only be harmed by the national spotlight, especially juxtaposed with the current Presidency. Accordingly, it would be in her interest to stay put.