Maybe Nicole Nason has talents not yet obvious to the outside world.
That was one auto industry lobbyist's hopeful, though slightly sarcastic, appraisal of the nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Others, in and out of the industry, see limited experience in motor vehicle safety, NHTSA's main job, and suspect a political favor by President Bush.
Not that Nason is without qualifications. The 35-year-old lawyer has worked nearly three years as assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation for governmental affairs -- essentially DOT's congressional lobbyist.
But Nason's climb up the career ladder included staff positions with Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, a hero among anti-abortion Republicans, and former Rep. Porter Goss of Florida, who became Central Intelligence Agency director last year.
NHTSA is nearing crucial decisions on new side-impact crash standards, revised roof strength regulations and an overhaul of the government's fuel economy program.
If confirmed by the Senate, Nason would succeed Dr. Jeffrey Runge, who left NHTSA in September to be chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security. Jacqueline Glassman is acting administrator.
Nason is withholding comment until her Senate confirmation hearings. The hearings have not been scheduled.