Ron Kirk will be announced as the United States Trade Representative. Kirk, a lawyer and lobbyist, has been the Mayor of Dallas, a U.S. Senate candidate, and an aide to Lloyd Bentsen. What I don't see -- and maybe he did this with Bentsen -- is a ton of, hmm, trade experience. Certainly he worked as mayor to bring investment into his city, but that's not the same thing (Apparently, his experience led to speculation he would fit well at Transportation or HUD). Similarly, the current occupant of the post, Susan Schwab, and the previous one, Rob Portman, didn't really have a lot of international experience either (Bush's first pick for the post, Robert Zoellick, had worked at the State Department). I'm not sure, however, what the real requirements of the job are: do you need a deep understanding of international trade policy or is it enough to be a skilled negotiator?

Similar to the Ray Lahood pick for DOT -- a congressman who seems to have voted reasonably well on transportation issues but is not considered a transportation expert -- you have to wonder what the angle is here. So I will be trying to find that out...

--Tim Fernholz

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