- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

President-elect George W. Bush is being urged to move to the center. What might that mean?

Inevitably, politicians in a representative democracy govern from the center. But the center is not just a point halfway between the positions of Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura both appealed to the center with programs that were tough-minded, not split-the-difference hash.

Often the electorate is firmly on one side of a heated debate. For example, polls show that between 57 percent and 70 percent of Americans support privatizing Social Security. And by 59 percent to 26 percent people prefer smaller government with fewer services to larger government with many services. That 59 percent would seem to include the political center.

The challenge for a president committed to change is to expand his constituency by leading on issues that a solid majority of the country supports. One way for Mr. Bush to build on his 49 percent of the electorate is to pick a Cabinet of Republicans, Democrats and independents united on a few big issues. Here's one list that might help Mr. Bush govern effectively from the center.

Secretary of state: Colin Powell. Done deal.

Defense secretary: Outgoing Sen. Charles S. Robb of Virginia is a moderate Democrat with the military experience that Mr. Bush and running mate Richard B. Cheney lack.

Treasury secretary: Wade Dokken, a Wall Street Democrat and Hillary Rodham Clinton contributor, would serve Mr. Bush's goal of expanding his constituency by moving forward on his popular programs. Mr. Dokken is the author of "New Century, New Deal: How to Turn Your Wages Into Wealth Through Social Security Choice." As an investor, he understands the value of real savings and the miracle of compound interest. As a Democrat, he recognizes that the people most hurt by our current Social Security System are low-and moderate-income workers.

Attorney general: The next attorney general faces a real challenge of cleaning up a department that has been content to look the other way as the Clinton-Gore administration violated campaign finance laws and exceeded its legal authority in myriad ways. Outgoing Rep. Tom Campbell California Republican a Stanford law professor, ran a courageous and thoughtful race for the Senate. His independence, intelligence, integrity and opposition to an imperial presidency would make him an outstanding choice.

Health and human services secretary: Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat with an independent streak who supported private Social Security accounts until he joined Al Gore's ticket, might be willing to do so again. If he declines, Eloise Anderson, who served as state welfare director in both Wisconsin and California, would be an outstanding choice.

Interior secretary: Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican, the only American Indian in Congress, has a strong record of concern for both the environment and private property rights.

Commerce secretary: Silicon Valley CEO T. J. Rodgers would clean corporate welfare out of this bloated and largely pointless department.

Labor secretary: Former Robert Kennedy aide Sam Beard, founder of the National Development Council, knows that what American workers really need is to become capitalists through Social Security reform.

Agriculture secretary: Conservative black Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., Georgia Republican, would bring racial, regional and partisan diversity to the Cabinet. The bonus for Republicans is that his seat would probably go to black Republican Dylan Glenn.

Housing and urban development secretary: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani would be a tough-minded secretary, but sticking New Yorkers with limousine liberal Mark Green as mayor would be cruel retaliation for their failure to back Mr. Bush.

Transportation secretary: Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, tried to block Bud Shuster's markups of transportation funding. An even craftier move might be to make the Pennsylvania Republican secretary, taking him out of the authorization and appropriations business in the House.

Education secretary: Howard Fuller, former head of the Milwaukee public schools, now advocates school choice at the Black Alliance for Educational Opportunity. Arizona School Superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan would be a more orthodox candidate but still an effective advocate of choice.

Energy secretary: Rep. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, promised to serve only three terms and kept his promise. The Energy Department could use a pork-buster.

Veterans affairs secretary: Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican, chairman of the House Administration Committee, cleaned up the financial and procurement systems of the House. The VA would be a bigger challenge.

U.S. trade representative: Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, is a leading advocate of free trade from a Republican state. A great way for Mr. Bush to show that he's a uniter, not a divider, is by putting a gay Republican in a job he clearly deserves on his merits.

Budget director: Outgoing Rep. John Kasich, Ohio Republican, is an obvious choice. Former Rep. Tim Penny, Minnesota Democrat, co-author of the Penny-Kasich budget cuts, would be another good pick.

U.N. ambassador: Linda Chavez, former executive director of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, would be an eloquent defender of a free society and the American system on the world stage.

If Mr. Bush leads effectively from the center, we might hope to see a cautious foreign policy, Social Security reform, tax relief, an assault on corporate welfare and pork-barrel spending, a softer volume on the culture wars, and maybe even a president who demonstrates greater awareness of the limited role of the presidency in a constitutional republic. That would be good news for more than the 49 percent of voters who supported George W. Bush.

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and the author of "Libertarianism: A Primer."

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