What do Obama’s Appointees Have in Common?

Here’s a list of Obama’s cabinet and their relevant military experience and educational experience

  • President Barack Obama* — None. Law degree.
  • Vice-President Joe Biden — Exempted from Vietnam draft. Law degree.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — No military service. Law degree.
  • Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner* — No military service.
  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — Air Force Officer (and Bush Holdover)
  • Attorney General Eric Holder* — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazaar — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke* — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis — No military experience
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius — No military experience
  • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan* — No military experience
  • Secretary of HUD Shaun Donovan* –No military experience
  • Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood –No military experience
  • Secretary of Energy Steven Chu — No military experience
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki — Retired General
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel — No military experience (although he curses like a sailor)
  • David Axelrod, chief adviser — No military experience
  • Robert Gibbs, press secretary — No military experience.

And let’s examine Obama’s Czars

  • Richard Holbrooke, Afghanistan Czar — No military experience, although spent 6 years in Vietnam with the Foreign Service and diplomatic services
  • Jeffrey Crowley, AIDS Czar — No military experience. 2 years in Peace Corps. (BA in chemistry)
  • Ed Montgomery*, Auto Czar — No military experience.
  • Alan Bersin*, Border Czar — No military experience. Law degree.
  • David J. Hayes, California Water Czar (Deputy Secretary of the Interior) — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Ron Bloom*, Car Czar — No military experience.
  • Dennis Ross, Central Asia Czar — No military experience (but much intelligence experience).
  • Todd Stern*, Climate Czar — No military experience. (No science experience, either.) Law degree.
  • Lynn Rosenthal, Domestic Violence Czar — No military experience ( to the best of my knowledge).
  • Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar — Drafted into the US Army in 1970, served stateside for 2 years. Served as a police officer.
  • Paul Volcker*, Economic Czar — No military experience.
  • Carol Browner, Energy and Environment Czar — No military experience. Law degree. (No scientific degree, but she did say of growing up in the Everglades “I was very shaped by growing up in that kind of environment where nature was right there.” That’s like me saying that I should be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs because I grew up near military bases.)
  • Joshua DuBois, Faith-Based Czar — No military experience.
  • Jeffrey Zients, US Chief Preformance Czar — No military experience.
  • Cameron Davis, Great Lakes Czar — No military experience. (Environmental lawyer.)
  • Van Jones*, Green jobs Czar — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Daniel Fried*, Guantanomo Czar – No military experience. Spent time with the Foreign Service.
  • Nancy Ann DeParle*, Health Czar — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Vivek Kundra, Information Czar — No military experience.
  • Dennis Blair, Intelligence Czar — Retired Navy Admiral. Former CinC-PAC.
  • George Mitchell, Middle East Czar — Served 2 years in the army. Law degree.
  • Kenneth R. Feinberg, Pay Czar — No military experience. Law degree.
  • Cass R. Sunstein*, Regulatory Czar — No military experience. Law degree.
  • John Holdren, Science Czar — No military experience. Actually has a degree in science!
  • Earl Devaney, Stimulus Oversight Czar — No military experience. Police & Secret Service experience.
  • Aneesh Chopra, Technology Czar — No military experience.
  • J. Scott Gration, Sudan Czar — Retired Air Force general.
  • Herb Allison*, TARP Czar — Four years in the navy.
  • John Brennan, Terrorism Czar — No military experience. Many years of intelligence training.
  • Adolfo Carrion, Jr., Urban Affairs Czar — No military experience.
  • Ashton Carter*, Weapons Czar — No military experience.
  • Gary Samore*, WMD Policy Czar — No military experience.

Those marked with an asterisk are graduates of Ivy League schools.


Number with military experience: 6 (2 in cabinet) (11%)

Number with law degrees: 17 (31 %)

Number of Ivy Leaguers: 18 (33%)

So if you said “lack of military experience”, you’d be right. In fact, half of the appointees with military experience are retired flag officers (Shinseki, Gration, Blair). But there are many lawyers (as well as M.P.A.’s as well). And 1/3 of this crew attended Ivy League schools, hardly a “cross section of America”. Well, if you just counted Northeast and Chicago as “America”. Maybe.

For comparison, Clinton’s cabinet had 6 ex-military, and GWB’s had 5 ex-military (counting Tom Ridge) at start.

31 Responses to “What do Obama’s Appointees Have in Common?”

  1. 1 Matt R
    October 11, 2009 at 8:34 am

    More and more Obama seems to be just be in bed with the establishment. He even abandoned a mutt in favor of a Kennedy pure-breed. Just like his Nobel Prize that, as a far as I can tell, he won for thinking good thoughts s opposed to significant reform.

  2. 2 DesertBoomer
    March 15, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Mil Experience- Reminds me of the Bush administration. VP, SecDef, Wolfowitz, Card, and if you count actually SERVING in the military, add W !

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My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).



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