Dick Riley makes TIME’s Cabinet Top 10


Well, this is pretty awesome — Dick Riley, who as we know was no slouch of a governor, has made TIME magazine's list of Top Ten Best Cabinet Members of modern times. It's quite a list:

  1. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, 1933-1946
  2. Henry Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture, 1933-1940
  3. Henry Morgenthau Jr., Secretary of the Treasury, 1934-1945
  4. George Marshall, Secretary of State, 1947-1949
  5. Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General, 1961-1964
  6. William Ruckelshaus, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, 1970-1973, 1983-1985
  7. Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation, 1983-1987
  8. Richard Riley, Secretary of Education, 1993-2001
  9. Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor, 1993-1997
  10. Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, 2006-present

You may quibble about some of them after Marshall — as we get closer to our own time, people seem less "great;" we see their flaws all too clearly. For instance, we who admire Gov. Riley may object to his having to follow someone rejected by the voters just last week. But being rejected by the voters should not diminish our respect for past achievement. Just ask Winston Churchill (you know, the guy who wasn't the Labour guy). Besides, one can excel as a Cabinet member but be less respected in other fields of endeavor. For instance, Henry Wallace made TIME's list of worst vice presidents.

And to earlier generations, someone we think of as a giant of history might have been looked upon as, "just this guy, you know." For instance, when he was growing up in Kensington, Md., my Dad used to hitchhike to junior high school on Connecticut Ave. One day, Harold Ickes stopped to pick him up. Dad rode up front with the chauffeur (OK, so he wasn't totally an ordinary guy). Another time, FDR rode by, and waved. (Though I obviously was not there, I have a vivid "memory" of that in my head — FDR in a convertible, the big, encouraging grin, the cigarette holder at a jaunty angle…)

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