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.