Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Myth of Competence

Update and bumped: Byron York is also intrigued by the return of the Clinton gang. And Big Lizards has more on Eric Holder and the Marc Rich pardon.
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Obama appears to be surrounding himself with Clintonites (and possibly, at least one actual Clinton) in his quest to fill senior administration slots: Rahm Emmanuel, Eric Holder, and, as seems increasingly likely, Hillary Clinton herself. Why?

I believe that he’s doing this because he wants to create the appearance (and in his own mind, at any rate, the reality) of competence; so, Obama is going with Washington insiders who have a fair amount of mileage on them, since time inside the beltway counts as the most useful kind of experience to an unimaginative politician and pedestrian thinker like our President-elect. After all, it’s not as if he could bring his cronies from Chicago with him to Washington: one’s in jail (Tony Rezko), one ought to be in jail (Bill Ayers), and others are too closely tied to the Chicago scene, with narrow, parochial interests, to be of any use at the White House.

But I have two questions: (a) are they, in fact, competent people, and (b) if so, is that necessarily a good thing?

Take Hillary Clinton, for example, the probable pick for Secretary of State. She has little, if any, foreign policy experience, and her one genuine effort to accomplish something in the executive line – health care reform – was disastrous (for her, I mean to say; if her plan had been passed into law, the consequences would have been disastrous for the rest of us).

Or Eric Holder, the proposed Attorney General, who is probably best remembered as the Clinton lawyer who helped push through a pardon for international swindler and tax cheat, Marc Rich, in return for the latter’s large donation of money to the Clinton library (this was accomplished over the strenuous objections of career Department of Justice lawyers, I might add).

Competent? I’m not so sure. But what if they all turn out to be thoroughly so? We are talking about people who will be working for a President whose public utterances and career M.O. include a fundamental hostility toward inconvenient constitutional rights (notably the second amendment, and quite possibly the first), transparency in government, free enterprise, and restraint of federal power. Competence, in this sense, may simply mean the creation of a quasi-socialist state with the minimum of fuss.

The only thing we’ve got going for us so far is that Obama is, as I say, a cautious man, and I’m hoping that much of what he spouted – or permitted to be construed in politically useful ways - during the campaign was mere applesauce, ladled out to the straitjacket wing of his nut-root supporters. For now, we watch and wait.


the_real_jeffs said...

Hillary brings other, ummmmm, issues to the plate as well. Allahpundit at Hot Air said it best about The Glacier:

"...she’ll be a terrible manager at State. Why? Just because of the endless infighting among her campaign staff that she did little to stop, and the fact that she’s still in debt six months after the primaries ended, and er, her minor strategic error in not preparing a ground game to defeat Obama in the caucus states in case she failed to put him away on Super Tuesday? Oh, and her inexplicable loyalty to tools like Mark Penn and Patti Solis Doyle, who used to spend afternoons watching soap operas instead of managing the campaign?"

And I can't quite see Obama as a cautious man, although I agree that he could be.

For example, in the same link as above, Obama is reportedly tossing loyal staffers and aides under the bus in return for Hillary's accepting SecState, plus other conditions that give me the willies, and make me wonder if Hillary is looking to compete with Obama for media attention until the 2012 campaign starts up. If what Allah points out is true, this is anything but cautious behavior on Obama's part.

I can't say just what Obama's thoughts are here. There are a number of reasons that Obama might make such concessions to Hillary on his team, not least of which is "Hold your friends close, but your enemies closer". Is this bold? Stupid? Cunning? A trap for Hillary? A chance for Bill to influence foreign affairs vicariously through Hillary? All of the above? But cautious it ain't.

That's for foreign affairs, any way. He does seem more cautious on internal matters. There your conclusion makes more sense. I just hope the internal issues don't overwhelmed by the foreign problems.

Paco said...

RJ: Maybe he really is just a ventriloquist's dummy for the Clintons.

Anonymous said...

No doubt, you already have this information, but just for the record, PLUS for the readers and commenters of LGF, where I posted your fine essay...

Background Information:

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

Rahm Emanuel

Discovered 2006 Audio: Obama’s Chief of Staff (Rahm Emanuel) Describes Mandatory Civil Service Plan

Rahm Emanuel, of particular note: It isn't just Fannie Mae where Obama has a problem. Another close political adviser, in fact the one man responsible for rallying support for Obama early on among Congressional Democrats, is Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who served on the Board of Directors for Freddie Mac after leaving the Clinton White House. According to Freddie Mac insiders, Emanuel during his time on the board opposed every reform proposed by the Bush Administration that would have impacted Freddie and Fannie Mae.

Hillary Clinton, of particular note: The fingerprints of Hillary Rodham Clinton, late White House lawyer Vincent Foster and two current White House aides have been found on the long-subpoenaed Rose Law Firm billing records that turned up in the White House in January.

The Senate Whitewater committee and independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr have been trying to learn who might have been in possession of the records before they mysteriously showed up on a table in the third-floor "book room" of the White House residence. Committee lawyers released a letter from the FBI detailing the findings yesterday.

The FBI identified a total of six people's fingerprints on the records. In addition to those of Clinton and Foster

Who needs The Chicago gang? Scads more on damn near everyone, Obama has teamed with can be found, should you desire.

My point I guess is, with this many ego's confined in the same administration, God only knows what the results will be and he isn't telling.

the_real_jeffs said...

Maybe he really is just a ventriloquist's dummy for the Clintons.

Now there's a terrifying thought, Paco.

Anonymous said...

Breitbart/ Unearthed 2001 Testimony: Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder Discusses Pardon of Marc Rich

Anonymous said...

Obama Advisers To Public: Temper Expectations

I didn't think anyone could get eye level with Robert Reich. Amazing.

When will people put together the fact the Emanuel rejected every proposal made by the Bush administration to TRY to rectify the Fannie/Freddie debacle?

Toss in the assisninity of Barney Frank, who has insisted all along that everything was just fine with Fannie/Freddie. (by the way, the word you used "myth", means something completely different, when out of the mouth of Barney)

Then toss in Christopher Dodd, one of the top money changers in the Fannie/Freddie mess.

Just exactly when will all this be laid at the feet of Democrats?

Team Obama, is now tossing big bucks into two, yet to be decided races...Minnesota and Georgia. If they both fall to democrats, Obama has a bullet proof Senate.

Steve Skubinna said...

I think Obama feels trapped by events, and that's why he took the dangerous step of offering State to Hillary. While everyone's attention was distracted, we appear to have won in Iraq, further highlighting Obama's disastorusly wrongheaded stance on the issue all along. Not even the most fervent Kool-Aid drinker at DU or Kos will buy Barry-Oh doing a 180 on Iraq, so he insulates himself by putting Hillary at State. Sure, he'll have to share some credit with here, but that's probably better in his mind than four years of having Hill remind everyone that she was right and he was wrong.

What she gets out of it, I can't tell. Maybe she wants to burnish her resume for 2012 - because if anyone is stupid enough to think this will "buy" the Clintons he's probably already sent all his money to Nigeria.

the_real_jeffs said...

Steve, that's a very plausible explanation of why Obama is putting Hillary on his cabinet. Although it emphasizes that Obama is anything but cautious when it comes to foreign affairs.

But your thought that The Mighty O! is "trapped" by events is interesting. I hadn't considered his actions in that light, but it means that he was likely focused only on winning the election, period. He did not think much beyond 4 November.

If so, this might explain why we are seeing so many Clintonistas on his cabinet. I'm surprised myself, especially given how bitter things got between him and Hillary during the campaign.

Paco said...

RJ: I agree that Barrie O was pretty much focused on winning the election, and hadn't much of a clue what he would do afterwards. In that sense, he's like the little dog chasing and yapping at a car; he's actually caught it and doesn't know what to do with it (very similar to Jimmy Carter, in that respect).

the_real_jeffs said...

"...(very similar to Jimmy Carter, in that respect)."

Alas, Paco, Obama and Carter have much more in common than mere political myopia. I believe some people have referred to Obama as "Carter II".

mojo said...

Two words: Kitchen Cabinet.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Anonymous said...

The point is, at least to me, I see no benefit, in Obama naming any of these gangster politicians (redundant) to posts.

Hillary as SoS. Is Obama planning on implanting a chip, that broadcasts everything she tells Billy?

I mean come on, we know Bill despises the Big O and we also know, that Bill is still working his fingers to the bone in the attempt to make O's presidency falls flat on it's face.

Paybacks for crossing the Clinton's are a bitch.

Are 52% of Americans THAT stupid and gullible?

Oh wait...ummm, that video you posted Paco, showing the asininity of Obama indoctrinated voters, just answered my theorem.

saint said...

He as to pick Clintonistas. Apart from being unable to bring all his Chicago felons with him (do we thank Hillary for Wright etc. being thrown under the bus), with 143 days in the Senate, a life time of hanging around with *ahems* and barely an honest day's work his entire life, he would not have developed any networks of talented individuals much less any "outside the Beltway".

ttj said...

Timothy Geithner from the Fed seems like a competent pick for Treasury Secretary.

But...that's about it. The rest is going to be just disarray. He's going to have Rahm Emmanuel threatening everybody with steak knives...should be entertaining.

And beyond political competence you need some kind of administrative competence that comes from experience.

Imagine, for example, driving a car without ever having taken the wheel of any similar vehicle. You might be a brilliant student who can memorize the car manual, but that's not going to be of the slightest use in a practical sense. Only in this case, it's going to be as if Obama is managing an aircraft carrier (make that, several fleets of aircraft carriers) without ever having piloted a dinghy. It's not enough to have somebody like Geithner "manning the guns".

I have a feeling this administration is going to provide an interesting case study of what happens with complete novice at the helm.

Paco said...

Good point, Saint. He was apparently one of the laziest senators around (or perhaps it would be more just to say that he was extremely distracted by his plans to run for president).

ttj: I agree that Geithner seems to be the only decent pick on the merits, so far.