But skip ahead four years when President Hillary Rodham Clinton is considering her White House cabinet appointments and decides that Sanchez could handle the weighty job overseeing the Pentagon.
In an era of notable firsts, there's never been a Latina Democrat in the job, and Sanchez's resume continues to strengthen.
Ranking House Democrat Nancy Pelosi today formally appointed Sanchez to an important congressional conference committee that will negotiate the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act with members of the U.S. Senate.
"I'll strive to set and maintain policies for the Department of Defense that keep our country safe and our military strong without spending unnecessary tax dollars," Sanchez said in a press statement.
The congresswoman, who has crushed a series of GOP congressional seat challengers, isn't new to defense issues. She serves as a ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, as a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security and--despite Orange County Republican claims that she's a mental lightweight while hilariously proclaiming nutty Dana Rohrabacher is intellectual--has proven herself capable of influencing military brass.
For example, Sanchez has helped force military officials to amend antiquated rules that protected rapist male soldiers from accountability, and she plans to use her new position on the conference committee to continue to demand changes with three related legislative amendments.
"I look forward to strongly advocating in conference for language protecting our service members from sexual assault within their own ranks," said Sanchez, who also wants to end the Pentagon's ban on female soldiers formally serving in combat. "Regardless of gender, I want our best and brightest soldiers to serve."
If you think Secretary of Defense Sanchez is an impossibility, consider that George W. Bush did the unspeakable. Bush appointed Newport Beach Republican Congressman Christopher Cox, a vocal opponent of meaningful financial institution regulation, to be the nation's top financial regulator as head the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Of course, with Cox at the wheel of the SEC, the nation's financial markets collapsed to historic proportions and, five years later, haven't fully recovered.