I have said for a while that Homeland Security is the worst possible job for any politician who actually wants to have a future political career. The job is all downside. I wrote a year ago:
Yeah, I know it is not a done deal, but the rumors are that our governor Janet Napolitano will be Obama's choice for Homeland Security.
On its face, this both makes a ton of sense, and simultaneously is odd. It makes sense because Napolitano is one of those rising Democratic stars who get special love in part for not being white males. It is odd because pulling her up to Washington would, by law, pass the governorship for the next two years to the Republicans (the Secretary of State completes the term, and she is a Republican). It also strikes me as odd because I think Homeland Security would be an absolutely awful platform for launching a run for higher office. That job has no upside "“ it is all downside.
But the final reason in the end that this may make sense can be seen in this table below from Paul Kedrosky on projected state budget deficits as a percentage of state revenues
Arizona is almost in as bad of shape as California, and California is a disaster area. So the financial chickens are about to come to roost here in Arizona for the drunken spending spree the state has been on, presided over by Napolitano. To preserve her from going to the Gray Davis Memorial Retirement Home for Failed Governors, Obama is likely to beam her up to Washington.
As I wrote before, I don't think Napolitano would normally have accepted this job had she not been desperate for a face-saving way to escape Arizona mid-term. But after recent events, I think it is highly unlikely anyone else on an elected-official career track will take this job. Look senior FBI or CIA types on the future.
Update: More here from Expresso Pundit.
So in the next six months--probably much sooner--Janet will move on and the President will pick an obscure, non-political, retired General who is clearly qualified and above reproach.