Thursday, December 18, 2008

Becerra's justification

As the world knows, or maybe just political junkies and trade policy geeks know, Rep. Xavier Becerra turned down Barack Obama's offer to be U.S. Trade Representative. The LA Times reports that Becerra said that he felt that he could be more effective as the No. 5 Democrat in Congress. This has the benefit of being true. He would also have to focus exclusively on trade, whereas in Congress he gets to deal with a wide variety. Trade is but one of many issues the Obama administration will be facing.

I think Obama played this particularly well. I hadn't heard any gossip about who was being considered for Trade Rep, because that's just not my focus. I was a little surprised Becerra got the offer, because I don't know him as being particularly focused on trade. I know something about his focus, because he's my Representative. He does pay attention to US-Korea relations, because Koreatown (where I live) is in his district.

My guess is that Obama wanted him as Trade Rep, but also would not mind Becerra staying in Congress, because he's a good, competent Democrat. So Obama wins either way, and in fact comes out of this looking great. Becerra is, of course, grateful to Obama for asking him; it raised his profile for a couple of weeks, which any politician always appreciates. He got to spend some face time with the President-elect, not a bad thing. Obama, meanwhile, scores a point or two with Hispanics for reaching out to a very prominent Hispanic for a job that would require a great deal of interaction with Latin America. Fun for the whole family!

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