The Artful Dodger
(Secretary of the Treasury)
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
We’ll leave debates over how exactly we got into this economic mess and what we need to do to get out of it for another time and place. For now, let’s just stipulate one undeniable fact: we’ve got crooks running the show. So why not a real, actual, out-in-the-open-and-proud-of-it crook? Enter Dickens’s lovable, pug-nosed pickpocket, our choice to head up the Treasury Department. Sure, with his grubby, nimble hand on the money faucet the corruption and waste won’t stop, and old Fagin will surely force him to skim more than a little off the top, but at least we’ll know where we stand. Perhaps Bob Dylan put it best: “to live outside the law you must be honest.” We’ve had enough of thieves who hide behind expensive suits and jumbled legalese; time to cut the charade and put one of literature’s most memorable rapscallions in charge of our financial fortunes. Just keep an eye on your purse.
(Secretary of Defense)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The outgoing administration has given us enough bluster and bravado to last several lifetimes. (Apparently they only heard the “big stick” part and missed the whole “walk softly” bit.) At any rate, our nominee perfectly combines the two qualities a good Defense Secretary must possess: menace and subtlety. The mere mention of his name is enough to invoke fear; he’s shrouded in mystery, a looming legend. And yet, when push comes to shove, his kinder nature emerges. In the end, he’ll use force only to protect the weak, not to intimidate or bully. You can bet war would be a last resort on Secretary Radley’s watch. But don’t mistake his tenderness for vulnerability or weakness—he gained that dark reputation for a reason. This is one sleeping giant you don’t want to awaken. Sure, his social awkwardness and blunt tendencies might prove problematic, but considering some of the men who’ve held this post in the past, the personality bar is set pretty low.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
(and other books) by Hunter S. Thompson
We know, we know. Too obvious, right? Well, yes and no. Sure, at first blush it may seem like nothing more than a cheap stab at irony to appoint a notorious imbiber of mind-altering chemicals to oversee the nation’s drug laws. But think about it: who is better equipped than an addict to understand our country’s complex narcotics conundrum and push for sensible, workable solutions? Asking someone who’s never gotten high to craft and oversee drug policy is like asking a lifetime vegetarian to be chief meat inspector. And don’t think it’ll be all fun and games with Drug Czar Gonzo at the helm. Thompson’s gin- and LSD-soaked alter ego may know how to push a good time to the limits of goodness (and time), but he also understands all too well the horrific, damaging consequences of over-indulgence. To wit: “One of the things you learn from years of dealing with drug people is that you can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug. Especially when it’s waving a razor-sharp hunting knife in your eye.” MTW