Obama had almost certainly picked on Rahm Emanuel as his WH chief of staff even before last Tuesday. But he told us yesterday that the next appointees– which will be to high cabinet positions– may take a bit more time/deliberation.
Brad DeLong, whom I think we can generally trust on this, tells us this about the general criteria in the selection process:
- Here are the talking points for Obama-Biden administration personnel selections. They have the added advantage of being true:
1.The bench is very deep right now. Practically everyone competent and qualified for high executive office has come over to the Democratic Party over the fourteen years since the coming of Gingrich. Thus there are a huge number of superb choices available for every position.
2. Everyone being considered for high federal office is intellectually honest: they understand not just the advantages of their own views, but their flaws and disadvantages as well; they understand the pluses of views opposed to theirs. Policy will be reality-based: it will depend upon our collective best guesses as to the way the world works, and not the idiosyncratic intellectual hobbyhorses of ex-AEI staffers.
3. Everyone [being considered] knows that the American people have elected Barack Hussein Obama and Joe Biden–not their staffs. Everyone knows that the jobs of staffers will be to present Obama and Biden with the options, their pluses and minuses, and then strive to implement their choices as best they can. The policies of the Obama-Biden administration will be Obama-Biden policies.
4.Everyone thinks it would be a great honor to work for the Obama-Biden administration.
5. Everyone knows that the bench is deep, and that their chances–however qualified they are–are low.
6. Everyone’s knows that this is bigger than any of us, and that the right attitude is to ask for an oar, find a place on a bench, and start rowing. There is an awful lot to do.
What a relief and a big change! To think that we’ll have people with real skills and expertise, rather than ideologues… As, too, that we’ll have people willing to understand and acknowledge the good points of in the arguments of those they disagree with, rather than bunch of same-thinking “true believers” deeply convinced their own individual and collective righteousness.
DeLong also quotes this from DC-based Spencer Ackerman:
- Do you know why you’re not reading solid stuff about who’s getting what positions in an Obama administration? Because everyone in Democratic D.C. thinks s/he’s about to get a job and doesn’t want to go spoiling his/her chances by blabbing to reporters, even when said reporters are just trying to collect quotes about what such-and-such an appointment would signify about Obama’s approach to issue X…
I totally agree, from the experiences I’ve had in DC in the past few weeks– and notably not just since the election– that there are a large number of people going around town with smug smiles on their faces and their lips intriguingly zipped. And by the way, that also includes many journalists, since so many US “journos” do actually aspire to run, or be very close to those who run, actual policy.
So many people in the intelligent part of the universe here seem to hope to be “called upon”. This has to do, of course, with the fact that whenever a new prez comes to town, s/he gets to fill around 3,000 or so jobs in the administration with his (or one day, her) own appointees. It makes the administration considerably more heavily politicized than any other in the developed world– positively “Big Mannish”, indeed.
As for me, y’all can rest quite assured that I neither aspire nor expect to get “called upon” to serve in any government administration!
It’s at times like the present, seeing all these expectant faces and “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” backslaps all around that I (a) am glad I’ve kept top my view of a journalist as being an outside-the-power-nexus observer, and (b) wish the US had a more thoroughly professionalized rather than politicized government administration.
I will also note that, of the necessarily limited sample of Very Politically Ambitious People I’ve encountered this time around, nearly all have been white males. From about age 25 onwards, white guys seem to slip so easily into playing the male professional escalator game. Especially at a time like this.
Let’s hope Pres-elect Obama might change the rules of the game a bit this time round??