Obama Projects 'Steady Hand' With Cabinet Picks

Barack Obama's Cabinet lineup, completed Friday with a month to spare, sends a signal that the fresh-faced president-elect will lean on experienced hands and moderate voices to steer the nation through turbulent times.

Though the former Illinois senator was accused during the campaign of fostering a far-left agenda, his Cabinet and staff features faces from the Clinton administration and even two Republicans.

The list of nominees suggests Obama, facing a deep recession and wars on two fronts, will rely on the kind of Washington veterans he campaigned against during the Democratic primaries.

Analysts say Obama's picks signal the president-elect values projecting the image of confidence over projecting the image of a new sheriff in Washington.

"He's been compared to the Messiah by the media, and his team suggests that he's Clinton Two," said Christopher C. Hull, adjunct professor of government at Georgetown University. "There's a very marked contrast between what he said during the campaign and what he's done in terms of putting his team in place ... As an American, I'm relieved."

Obama's picks would reflect a "moderate and mainline" policy platform, he said.

Obama's final Cabinet picks, announced Friday, were Rep. Hilda Solis of California for labor secretary and Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois for transportation secretary, and he picked former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to be U.S. trade representative and venture capitalist Karen Mills to lead the Small Business Administration.

Solis, a four-term congresswoman known to be heavily pro-union, was one of the few Obama picks who triggered any controversy. She was viewed with skepticism by some in the business community.

Kirk, on the other hand, somewhat eased the business community's concerns about new trade restrictions, saying he will pursue an "aggressive, pro-trade agenda."

Obama also has named four former rivals to his team, though some might not cause the president-elect many headaches. For example, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped to be secretary of commerce, is a former President Clinton appointee who broke with the Clintons when he endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Hillary Clinton now is poised to be Obama's secretary of state.

David Lewis, political science professor at Vanderbilt University, argues that the presence of these former rivals poses a "risk" because any friction could turn into nasty bureaucratic battles in Obama's administration.

But Obama clearly was trying to send a message with his seasoned choices, Lewis said.

"There's a sense in which these picks are intended to reassure the markets, the international community that there is a steady hand at the tiller," said Lewis, who is part of the White House Transition Project, a resource of experts for presidential transition teams.

He said Obama also might have turned to some of these candidates out of necessity, since most qualified officials would have come out of either the Bush administration or the Clinton administration. He said Obama might be preparing to appoint more progressive candidates to lower-level positions, grooming them for more important posts later on.

For now, Obama has increased the odds that his nominees will face a relatively drama-free confirmation process by steering clear of risky choices.

There have been complaints about attorney general nominee Eric Holder's role in Clinton-era pardons. And revelations about Bill Clinton's foundation's international donors could make things rocky for his wife.

But historically, most nominees eventually make it through confirmation. Since Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, only one Cabinet secretary nominee for an incoming administration has been rejected. The Senate voted in 1989 against former Sen. John Tower, George H.W. Bush's nominee for secretary of defense. Dick Cheney was confirmed to that post shortly afterward.

Aside from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, all of Obama's Cabinet secretary nominees will have to be confirmed.

President Bush told FOX News earlier in the week that he thinks Obama's national security team is "solid."

There was some geographic imbalance in Obama's Cabinet picks, however. None of them are Southerners, though Kirk, the pick for trade representative, is from Dallas.

FOXNews.com's Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.