The Johnson Cabinet

The Morning After

As the campaign wheezed to a close, men in Washington began to speculate earlier than usual about the composition of the new Johnson Cabinet. Some soundings taken among leading Washington reporters and among bureaucrats in the Executive Branch indicate that the President will make few changes in the foreign and defense sphere but will definitely shake up the domestic posts.

* DEFENSE AND STATE--Johnson has widely and loudly proclaimed his respect for both Rusk and McNamara, and no changes will be made for at least twelve months, most sources suggested. The Defense Secretary feels that he still has a year's work to complete--abolishing the draft, cutting back on bases, making the department more economical--but after that period his usefulness will diminish. He would like to remain in the Administration, either at State, as has often been rumored, or in the Treasury Department.

Secretary Rusk also feels that after another year in the Administration he will be ready to leave his post--and probably the Government. Both men have had little trouble working with President Johnson.

* TREASURY--When Johnson became President, it was assumed that Douglas Dillon would be one of the first Kennedy men to go--the new Chief Executive had any number of business friends whom he would like to make Secretary of the Treasury. Most prominently mentioned was Donald Cook, ex-chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and present head of the American Light & Power Company. But Dillon, who definitely wants to stay in the Government rather than return to investment banking, has been a stalwart fund raiser in the past months and is now given an even chance of remaining.

* JUSTICE--Johnson's problem here is to find a man who will not be an anathema to the South, will be respected in the North, and will hold together the fine division chiefs brought in by Robert Kennedy. Johnson promoted Nicholas Katzenbach to acting Attorney General out of fear that any other choice would alienate the Kennedy men. But Katzenbach and the President have had only fair working relations.

Most likely to succeed him is W. Willard Wirtz, who would be glad to move from the Labor Department to the most important domestic Cabinet job. Wirtz, an old law partner of Adlai Stevenson and widely respected labor lawyer, has gained Johnson's friendship in the past months as speech coordinator for the Presidential campaign. A quiet, droll liberal, Wirtz would appeal to the Kennedy team but would not alienate the South.

According to one reporter, Leon Jaworski, a Texas lawyer and Wirtz's main rival, has "been making noises about his availability for the job, which indicates he certainly hasn't been tapped."

* LABOR--If Wirtz leaves he will probably be replaced by James Reynolds, the present Assistant Secretary, or Theodore Kheel, New York lawyer, friend of New York's Mayor Wagner, and well-known arbitrator of labor disputes.

* HEW--Most likely of all cabinet officers to go is Secretary Cellebrezze, a political appointment who has unfortunately lived up to everyone's limited expectation. The two main contenders for the job appear to be Whitney Young, Director of the Urban League, and Sargent Shriver.

Shriver is held in high esteem by Johnson, but he will probably not receive the appointment. The President apparently feels that Shriver's prestige is needed to make the War on Poverty a going operation. And after a long congressional hassle this summer over the need for an autonomous agency to combat poverty, the program is not about to be shifted under the aegis of HEW to accommodate its director. Anyway, Shriver has his eye on the Illinois Senate seat which Paul Douglas will reportedly vacate in 1966. This leaves Young, who would be the first Negro Cabinet member in history.

* AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE--Both Freeman and Hodges will probably leave their positions. Freeman has been waiting for a year and a half to abandon his "crappy job," in the words of one reporter. Hodges, whom Johnson does not consider energetic enough to cope with the problems of compliance with the Public Accommodations section of the Civil Rights Law and the Area Redevelopment Act, will reportedly be asked to resign. Buford Ellington, ex-Governor of Tennessee and a personal friend of Johnson, may become Secretary of Agriculture, while Frank Stanton, President of CBS, seems first in line for Commerce.

* INTERIOR--Johnson has disliked Stewart Udall ever since 1960, when the Arizonan switched his delegation from Johnson to Kennedy in the National Convention. But the Secretary has just completed an excellent year; a clutch of conservation legislation has been passed. Furthermore Lady Bird likes Udall because he did such a good job planning and promoting her campaign forays into the wilderness. As a result, Johnson will retain the Secretary with some reluctance.

But, of course, pat as this all may sound, it can only be speculation. As one bureau chief said, with more feeling than profundity: "In naming and replacing Cabinet officials, there's absolutely no custom, no tradition, no nothing."