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Bush's Choices: Cabinet

So far, the Bush Cabinet appointments have been mostly centrist Republican stalwarts with solid credentials and the loyalty the new president is looking for. Most of them, we expect, will be confirmed without much debate.

Mr. Bush deserves congratulations for the Cabinet assembled thus far. While it contains echoes of his father's administration, it's more demographically diverse than Ronald Reagan's Cabinet or that of former President Bush. There are five men, three women. Five are white, two African-American, and one Hispanic.

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The Cabinet's political coloration swung toward the right last Friday with the appointment of Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general. That was a bow to the more conservative wing of the GOP, which until this appointment had been feeling it might be passed over. Mr. Ashcroft's appointment will likely spark some contention on Capitol Hill during the confirmation process. His stands on civil rights and abortion will be scrutinized by Democrats.

On the other side of the spectrum, Bush's pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, is an abortion-rights advocate who's considered a "liberal" Republican.

Still, this Cabinet is far from ideologically diverse. That's not surprising for a new administration. But with the country split over the policy options highlighted in the election, an effort to push forward a staunchly Republican agenda faces big obstacles.

Lost in the appointment process so far is an opportunity for Bush to extend a conciliatory hand across the aisle. He hasn't found a Democrat to bring aboard the Cabinet. Admittedly, the pickings are slim in a closely divided Congress. But we hope he keeps trying. A little unmistakable bipartisanship could go a long way toward convincing Americans that the new team is serious about bringing reconciliation to the nation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society