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Commentary: Obama should look to the Lou

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 3, 2008 - Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Eric Holder, Robert Gates: Nice names for the Obama team. Strong names. Lots of experience and credibility.

But, like many here in St Louis, I am concerned that the Obama transition team may not be looking in the direction of the Gateway City. So I am hoping this article starts the "What the Lou Can Do for You!" movement.

I know a lot of the top spots are filled, but we won't turn our backs on strong supporting roles. And given the strength of the pool of possible candidates from St. Louis I'm certain our next president will recognize what an embarrassment of riches he'll find here.

My first recommendation is U. City Loop-meister Joe Edwards for under secretary of state. The reason is obvious to any who have been to Blueberry Hill's no-smoking area. In the hall to the bathrooms for that area is a collection of pictures of Joe with every major Rock and Roll Hall of Famer you can think of. Clearly Joe knows how to hang with rock's royalty.

Unruly world leaders should be a piece of cake after dealing with a fully loaded Keith Richards or a frisky Little Richard, for that matter. Edwards would be especially helpful with one of out most vexing countries, North Korea. Given that Kim Jong-chul, heir apparent of Kim Jong-il the current Great Leader, is a big fan of Eric Clapton, Edwards would be perfect for clearing up that mess. Just give Joe an afternoon with the Great Leader's kid, a case of whatever is the remaining American beer, they play a little foosball, crank up some "Layla" and ... no more problems.

My next pick would fit well with the media savvy Obama team: Joe Buck for spokesman at the State Department. I would have offered him for White House press secretary, but that job's going to Robert Gibbs and, besides, Joe should start a little lower as he transitions from sports to politics.

Buck's enormous skills providing color commentary will be especially helpful to smooth rough edges for Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, who soldiered her way through some confusion about incoming fire in Bosnia and a husband who on occasions may still turn out to be, well let's just say, a little too interesting. Joe's ability to make boring games seem interesting, manage the minutia of baseball stats and pronounce names like Klopfenstein, Tinoisamoa and Adeyanju will be critical if we are going to bring a little sparkle back to the State Department.

My final suggestion for an important role is August Busch IV as ambassador to the Court of St. James's. I would suggest him for ambassador to Belgium but he may have issues with some folks there. If Joe Kennedy could do well in London, surely another Baron of Booze can, too. Now that he has so much time on his hands, the former head of the former King of Beers would use invitations from the Queen. While at court, he's likely to find others with whom he can commiserate with about losing empires.

And you, good reader, can do your part to help "What the Lou Can Do for You!" succeed: First let others (particularly highly placed Democrats) know about the movement; send this to the Obama team, and add your own suggestions.

Steve Lawler is a St Louis based writer, organizational psychologist and Episcopal priest. He is the author of the forthcoming novel, “Father FX Explains God.” He teaches leadership at Washington University. 

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