White House team changes

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President Bill Clinton yesterday named Dan Glickman, a nine-term Democratic Congressman from Kansas, as his new Agriculture Secretary, the first of a string of high level appointments aimed at giving new momentum to his Administration after last m onth'smidterm election pounding.

The President's choice of a consummate Washington insider should encounter few obstacles being confirmed, even from a Republican Congress.

Mr Glickman has been a key member of the House Agriculture committee. He is also outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and thus oversaw Congressional scrutiny of the Aldrich Ames fiasco at the CIA. Senator Robert Dole, the Senate Majority leader, is a supporter of Mr Glickman.

But the 50-year-old Congressman is also a case study of the Democratic party's current woes. His defeat last month at the hands of an obscure Republican backed by the gun lobby and the Christian right was one of the biggest upsets of the mid-term elections. Mr Glickman himself said that Mr Clinton's personal unpopularity was a factor in his downfall.

Originally the White House had hoped to name the new Cabinet member at a showy ceremony as one of a batch of high level appointments. But once again planning fell victim to Mr Clinton's procrastination. Despite weeks to make up his mind the President seems still not to have settled upon a new Democratic party chairman, whose role will be crucial in the run up to the 1996 elections.

He must also pick a White House political director to replace the outgoing Joan Baggett, and a new Surgeon General to succeed Joycelyn Elders, who was fired earlier this month after some now famous comments on masturbation.

Despite the delay, the new White House press secretary is still set to be Mike McCurry, who has served as spokesman for the Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Mr McCurry, reckoned to be one of ablest policy presenters in Washington, is a veteran of several Democratic campaigns with an authority and command of issues never acquired by Dee Dee Myers, the first woman to hold the job.

Therein lies one reason for the hold-up. Mr Clinton and his wife have all along sought a strong female presence in the Administration. Three women are departing and while filling the jobs with white male insiders might make political sense it would not measure up to the Clintons' goal of a Government "which looks like America''