No one has a f@#$ing clue who is going where.Seriously, I've heard conflicting accounts about particular names and positions. The two things all my sources agree on is:
President-elect Barack Obama is still mulling over whom to appoint to his intelligence cabinet.... Published reports say Obama is considering Adm. Dennis Blair (ret)., for the supervisory post of Director of National Intelligence; As of last week, Blair's nomination was not a fait accompli, although he was still in the running, sources said; some human rights activists have transmitted their disapproval to Obama's team. Intelligence types who don't have transition connections or insider information noted that the name leaked out at the same time as Obama was said to be considering Gen. James Jones (Ret.) for the post of national security adviser and Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State; when those two announcements were formalized, Blair was not introduced as a member of Obama's national security team.... Sources say that Obama's team is having trouble finding a potential CIA director who lacks politically incriminating links to controversial Bush Administration policies and yet commands the respect of the agency's rank and file.Another problem with Blair in particular might be that he's landed on Foreign Policy's "10 Worst Predictions for 2008" list:
“[In] reality the risks to maritime flows of oil are far smaller than is commonly assumed. First, tankers are much less vulnerable than conventional wisdom holds. Second, limited regional conflicts would be unlikely to seriously upset traffic, and terrorist attacks against shipping would have even less of an economic effect. Third, only a naval power of the United States’ strength could seriously disrupt oil shipments.” —Dennis Blair and Kenneth Lieberthal, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007
On Nov. 15, 2008 a group of Somali pirates in inflatable rafts hijacked a Saudi oil tanker carrying 2 million barrels of crude in the Indian Ocean. The daring raid was part of a rash of attacks by Somali pirates, which have primarily occurred in the Gulf of Aden. Pirates operating in the waterway have hijacked more than 50 ships this year, up from only 13 in all of last year, according to the Piracy Reporting Center. The Gulf of Aden, where nearly 4 percent of the world’s oil demand passes every day, was not on the list of strategic “chokepoints” where oil shipments could potentially be disrupted that Blair and Lieberthal included in their essay, “Smooth Sailing: The World’s Shipping Lanes Are Safe.” Hopefully, Blair will show a bit more foresight if, as some expect, he is selected as Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence.
Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices. Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left. Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss. “He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it's all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America. OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn't there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?” Even supporters make clear they’re on the lookout for backsliding. “There’s a concern that he keep his basic promises and people are going to watch him,” said Roger Hickey, a co-founder of Campaign for America’s Future.Steve Hildebrand pushes back at the Huffington Post. I look forward to the 2010 debate about whether:
Barack Obama's chief economic adviser was one of the youngest people to be tenured at Harvard and later became its president. His budget director went to Princeton and the London School of Economics, his choice for ambassador to the United Nations was a Rhodes scholar, and his White House counsel hit the trifecta: Harvard, Cambridge and Yale Law.... [S]keptics say Obama's predilection for big thinkers with dazzling résumés carries risks, noting, for one, that several of President John F. Kennedy's "best and brightest" led the country into the Vietnam War. Obama is to be credited, skeptics say, for bringing with him so few political acquaintances from Illinois. But, they say, his team reflects its own brand of insularity, drawing on the world that Obama entered as an undergraduate at Columbia and in which he later rose to eminence as president of the Harvard Law Review and as a law professor at the University of Chicago.... The Ivy-laced network taking hold in Washington is drawing scorn from many conservatives, who have in recent decades decried the leftward drift of academia and cast themselves as defenders of regular Americans against highbrow snobbery. Joseph Epstein wrote in the latest Weekly Standard -- before noting that former president Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College -- that "some of the worst people in the United States have gone to the Harvard or Yale Law Schools . . . since these institutions serve as the grandest receptacles in the land for our good students: those clever, sometimes brilliant, but rarely deep young men and women who, joining furious drive to burning if ultimately empty ambition, will do anything to get ahead." The libertarian University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, who is not related to Joseph Epstein, worries that the team's exceptionalism could lead to overly complex policies. "They are really smart people, but they will never take an obvious solution if they can think of an ingenious one. They're all too clever by half," he said. "These degrees confer knowledge but not judgment. Their heads are on grander themes . . . and they'll trip on obstacles on the ground." All agree that the picks reveal something about Obama, suggesting he will make decisions much as he did in the U.S. Senate -- by bringing as many smart people into the room as possible and hearing them out.... [Nicholas] Lemann said Obama's penchant for expertise seems tempered with a respect for people who had, like Obama, left the path to academic jobs or big law firms to run for public office.And then there's the New York Times' Frank Rich:
The stewards of the Vietnam fiasco had pedigrees uncannily reminiscent of some major Obama appointees. McGeorge Bundy, the national security adviser, was, as Halberstam put it, “a legend in his time at Groton, the brightest boy at Yale, dean of Harvard College at a precocious age.” His deputy, Walt Rostow, “had always been a prodigy, always the youngest to do something,” whether at Yale, M.I.T. or as a Rhodes scholar. Robert McNamara, the defense secretary, was the youngest and highest paid Harvard Business School assistant professor of his era before making a mark as a World War II Army analyst, and, at age 44, becoming the first non-Ford to lead the Ford Motor Company. The rest is history that would destroy the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and inflict grave national wounds that only now are healing. In the Obama transition, our Clinton-fixated political culture has been hyperventilating mainly over the national security team, but that’s not what gives me pause. Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were both wrong about the Iraq invasion, but neither of them were architects of that folly and both are far better known in recent years for consensus-building caution (at times to a fault in Clinton’s case) than arrogance. Those who fear an outbreak of Clintonian drama in the administration keep warning that Obama has hired a secretary of state he can’t fire. But why not take him at his word when he says “the buck will stop with me”? If Truman could cashier Gen. Douglas MacArthur, then surely Obama could fire a brand-name cabinet member in the (unlikely) event she goes rogue. No, it’s the economic team that evokes trace memories of our dark best-and-brightest past. Lawrence Summers, the new top economic adviser, was the youngest tenured professor in Harvard’s history and is famous for never letting anyone forget his brilliance. It was his highhanded disregard for his own colleagues, not his impolitic remarks about gender and science, that forced him out of Harvard’s presidency in four years. Timothy Geithner, the nominee for Treasury secretary, is the boy wonder president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He comes with none of Summers’s personal baggage, but his sparkling résumé is missing one crucial asset: experience outside academe and government, in the real world of business and finance. Postgraduate finishing school at Kissinger & Associates doesn’t count.There are a few other examples of stories like this, but I think you get the drift. These stories are just as overblown as the "team of rivals" meme. Halberstam's "best and brightest" were known primarily as brilliant scholars before they joined the Kennedy administration. While many Obama's major appointments are smart, none of them besides Larry Summers have any extensive experience working at an Ivy League institution. Indeed, as Lemann observed in the Post above, Obama likes people who have stepped away from the academy. The other irony is that the undercurrent of these stories contradicts the overt theme. The undercurrent is progressive dissatisfaction with Summers, Geithner, and others who worked for Robert Rubin. The critics' suggestion for how to correct for this bias? Apparently, they should hire more academics. Rich writes, "In our current financial quagmire, there have also been those who had the wisdom to sound alarms before Rubin, Summers or Geithner did. Among them were not just economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Nouriel Roubini." See Michael Hirsch and Josh Marshall as well. So, really, this "best and brightest" critique is kind of an unholy alliance between conservatives grasping at straws to criticize the Obama transition and progressives who feel screwed over by the economic appointments. [But aren't the progressives right? Wouldn't Stiglitz be a smart pick for an administration position?--ed. Um... no, because this overlooks the fact that, based on his DC experiences in the nineties, Joe Stiglitz's managerial, bureaucratic, and political skills are all really, really bad. Furthermore, his writings since that time suggest that the DC experience has curdled rather than improved on these skills.]
Nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply (-533,000) in November, and the unemployment rate rose from 6.5 to 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. November's drop in payroll employment followed declines of 403,000 in September and 320,000 in October, as revised. Job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors in November.Since every other sector of the economy is asking for federal assistance, I'm wondering if this Boston Globe story by Robert Gavin will prompt the male gender to ask for special assistance:
Men are losing jobs at far greater rates than women as the industries they dominate, such as manufacturing, construction, and investment services, are hardest hit by the downturn. Some 1.1 million fewer men are working in the United States than there were a year ago, according to the Labor Department. By contrast, 12,000 more women are working. This gender gap is the product of both the nature of the current recession and the long-term shift in the US economy from making goods, traditionally the province of men, to providing services, in which women play much larger roles, economists said. For example, men account for 70 percent of workers in manufacturing, which shed more than 500,000 jobs over the past year. Healthcare, in which nearly 80 percent of the workers are women, added more than 400,000 jobs. "As the recession broadens, the gap between men and women is going to close somewhat," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "But right now, the sectors that are really getting pounded are intensely male." The divide is far starker than it was in last recession, when the technology crash battered professional and technical sectors in which women now hold more than 40 percent of jobs. From the beginning of 2001 to the beginning of 2002, the number of employed men declined by about 900,000, while the population of women with jobs fell by about 700,000.In semi-seriousness, one wonders if this kind of gender breakdown will lead to a skew in infrastructure spending towards male-dominated industries (like road construction) rather than female-friendly infrastructure sectors (like, say, expanding broadband capabilities or boosting education spending).
So there are logical reasons why lawyers might be getting the top foreign-policy posts. Are these substantively good reasons, however? As a professor with an interest in seeing his graduates thrive in the public sector, I think attending a public-policy school should send an even stronger signal. It should say that the person in question is well-trained and has the other traits necessary for a leadership position. Perhaps the next step should be to make the first year of a public-policy degree more like the first year of law school. After all, why should one-Ls have all the fun?[Cue Satanic cackle here!!--ed.]
If you are bright and are contemplating a potential career in American politics, you go to a top law school--not a public policy school. This does not seem to have changed much in recent decades despite everything [Harvard's Kennedy School of Government] has done to make itself visible and relevant.While I'm glad that the Fletcher School can claim at least one cabinet appointment, Rodrik raises an interesting question -- why do law school grads get the foreign policy jobs coveted by public policy school grads? I can think of a couple of reasons. The first is really simple -- if you're going to be writing laws, it helps to be a lawyer. The second reason is simple path dependence. The original gangsters of the foreign policy community were lawyers. The best way to get a top policymaking job is to made your mark by serving as a loyal deputy to past top policymakers. Since people are more likely to hire their own, it's not surprising that lawyers would hire other lawyers. The second reason is signaling. Follow this logic:
Of the first 15 cabinet and White House appointments announced by president-elect Barack Obama... three earned degrees from the nondescript buildings off the Strand that house the London School of Economics. The selections of Peter Orszag as budget director and Pete Rouse and Mona Sutphen to the senior White House staff means the LSE only has two less graduates than Harvard in team Obama. LSE currently has one more than traditional American powerhouse universities Princeton (Michelle Obama’s alma mater); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Michigan Law School. Mighty Yale can boast only one graduate, Gregory Craig, the next presidential legal counsel, though Hillary Clinton and James Steinberg will triple the score if they end up at the state department.
"Isn’t it amazing," asks Krugman, "just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing. For a bunch of people who were written off as a permanent minority four years ago, the Democrats look remarkably like the natural governing party these days, with a deep bench of talent." That certainly feels true. But the Bush administration started out with a fairly deep bench. Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Paul O'Neill --a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and a past chairman of the RAND Corporation -- as Secretary of the Treasury. Columbia's Glenn Hubbard as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice providing foreign policy expertise. Indeed, the Bush team was lauded for being such a natural entity of governance: These were figures from the Nixon and Ford and Bush administrations, and they were backed by graybeards like Baker and Scowcroft and Greenspan. What could go wrong?McArdle dissents:
Obama's got a much, much better economics team than Bush started out with. I agree with his endorsement of Glenn Hubbard. But Paul O'Neill wasn't exactly an a-lister even before he turned out to have fantastic(ally entertaining!) verbal impulse control problems. And Larry Lindsay did not match up to Larry Summers in stature, though of course what he got fired for was not being incompetent, but telling the truth. Bush's second term team has actually been pretty stellar, but his first term left a lot to be desired.I actually think they're both right. Klein is correct that, John Ashcroft excepted, Bush's first cabinet was viewed at the time in largely glowing terms. Remember when everyone thought Tommy Thompson was the perfect guy to take over HHS? When Bush deciding to keep George Tenet and Norm Mineta in his cabinet were acts of statesmanlike bipartisanship? Ironically, Ashcroft is likely the only first-term cabinet member whose reputation has gone up in retrospect. At the same time, McArdle is correct that the economic team was not considered the strength of the cabinet -- the national security team had the all-stars in Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, etc. The simple fact is that what matters in any organization is the leadership from the top. George W. Bush put together a group of strong-willed individuals, but displayed little interest in refereeing disputes among them. Will Obama do better? I'm cautiously optimistic, but we won't know for a while.
[O]ne could forgive Geithner right now if his head swelled just a little bit. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up five hundred points on Friday as word of his appointment leaked. The Dow jumped close to another four hundred points yesterday after Obama officially introduced him. One has to wonder if, sometime this week, when Geithner’s wife asks him to do the dishes, he will be tempted to respond, “Have you caused the Dow to jump by more than ten percent? I didn’t think so!”
To understand the context for this, it’s important to recall that the ideological spectrum around foreign policy elites isn’t sorted all that well. On economic issues, moderate Republicans are almost all still to the right of moderate Democrats. But on foreign policy, traditional Republican realists have a lot more in common with liberal Democrats than either do with Democratic hawks. Both are likely to have opposed the Iraq War or soured on it early. Both are likely to be skeptical of the idea that we should base our foreign policy on self-righteousness. Both are likely to appreciate the importance of taking a balanced approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict. And both are likely to be skeptical of the idea that the highest expresion of humanitarian impulses is launching unilateral wars surrounded by high-minded rhetoric.This sounds about right, but Yglesias omits a key driver behind this policy confluence. The performance of the Bush administration has eliminated the two largest points of disagreement between these two groups. Liberal Democrats used to place a much higher premium on human rights questions than realists -- but the Bush administration soured the idea of putting this issue front and center. Similarly, realists were much more willing to act unilaterally than those on the left. The intense blowback from the Bush administration's unilateralist policies, however, have blunted that impulse to some degree. So now realists are saying that we need to work closely with allies and liberals saying the U.S. should perfect its own human rights regime before looking for foreign causes.
Some progressive Obama supporters think the arrival of Clinton at the State Dept. will mean they’ll be frozen out. That would have implications for their advancement in subsequent Democratic administrations. “Basically, you have all of these young, next-generation and mid-career people who took a chance on Obama” during the primaries, said one Democratic foreign-policy expert included in that cohort. “They were many times the ones who were courageous enough to stand up early against Iraq, which is why many of them supported Obama in the first place. And many of them would likely get shut out of the mid-career and assistant-secretary type jobs that you need, so that they can one day be the top people running a future Democratic administration.” In the foreign-policy bureaucracy, these middle-tier jobs — assistant secretary and principal-deputy-assistant and deputy-assistant — are stepping stones to bigger, more important jobs, because they’re where much of the actual policy-making is hashed out. Those positions flesh out strategic decisions made by the president and cabinet secretaries; implement those policies; and use their expertise to both inform decisions and propose targeted or specific solutions to particular crises. The responsibility conferred on those offices, and the expertise developed and deepened by their occupants, shape the future luminaries of U.S. foreign policy. Susan Rice, for example, served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs in Bill Clinton’s second term and is now a leading contender for a top job in the Obama administration. “These are your foreign-policy change agents,” said the Democratic foreign-policy expert.Sargent names names:
Among the Hillary people you can imagine going with her to the State Department are old-guard types such as Richard Holbrooke, Jamie Rubin, and Michael O'Hanlon. While some of Obama's foreign policy advisers had served under Bill Clinton, Obama had plenty of fresher faces, such as Samantha Power, who during the campaign strongly condemned the Hillary "conventional wisdom" foreign policy mindset that might dominate should she be elected president.... The question is whether Hillary people at State will muddle what is arguably Obama's overarching foreign policy ambition: Fundamental change in the way national security is discussed in this country and a true and enduring transformation of our own views of what constitutes just and practical uses of our military power abroad. The dynamic bears watching.As an outsider to this whole process, these concerns strike me as massively overlown, for a few reasons. First, as I said before, I'm not sure how much of a gap there is between Clinton and Obama on policy substance. This public but anonymous fretting has more to do with jobs than with policy positions. [UPDATE: See this Thomas P.M. Barnett post to get a sense of the inside-the-Beltway anxiety on this point -- or, click on this TNI online essay of mine from earlier in the month.] Second, I'm not sure how large Clinton's coterie will be. One of the problems her campaign had on the foreign policy side was an overreliance on senior policy advisors -- Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, to name two of them. They aren't going into the Obama administration. Clinton had fewer people attached to her to staff Assistant Secretary of State positions, so I don't think there would be a large crowding out effect (Holbrooke might go in as Deputy SoS -- but I'm not completely convinced that such an arrangement would work for either him or Clinton). Maybe Lee Feinstein will displace Samantha Power as Policy Planning director, but other than that there won't be much difference. Third, my hunch is that a lot of Obama's 300 will be headed to the National Security Council staff. Now, whether they have influence there depends largely on the relationship between Clinton and Obama, but the NSC is another place where future bigfeet start cutting their teeth. Disgruntled Obama-ites should feel free to comment/e-mail me if they think I misreading the lay of the land.
So has anyone actually read [Team of Rivals]? I think it’s a book I’ve been known to pretend to read in the past. In general, I’d be more comfortable with a president drawing lessons from serious historical scholarship rather than these kind of pop histories they sell in airports.As it happens, I've read Team of Rivals from cover to cover, and even recommended it to the presidential candidates months before it was hip to do so. Here's what I wrote then:
The idea of highlighting Lincoln’s greatness by examining how he treated both his political rivals (William Seward, Salmon Chase, Edwin Stanton, and Edward Bates) and his generals (McClellan, Grant, Meade) is ingenious. Goodwin suggests two sources of Lincoln’s greatness: his ego, which allowed him to tolerate with grace the machinations of his cabinet, and his political acumen, which allowed him to move on the slavery issue in such a way that he led the country without overreaching and antagonizing public opinion in the Union. This latter, populist skill is usually looked at askance in political commentary, so it was facinating to see a great man use it to good purposes.How does the Team of Rivals analogy apply here? Well, Obama certainly has a healthy ego, and based on his behavior to date, seems perfectly comfortable being the calm at the center of the storm. That said, I think there are two important differences at work here: 1. Lincoln's team of rivals consisted of politicians who actively pursued the Presidency, and thought themselves the political superior of Lincoln. I'm not sure how well that applies here beyond Hillary Clinton. For example, this FT story by Demetri Sevastopulo suggests that keeping on Bob Gates as SecDef mirrors, "the approach of Abraham Lincoln who appointed former rivals to his cabinet in 1861." But Gates has never run for the presidency, or expressed any desire to do so. Neither has Larry Summers, Tom Daschle, Eric Holder, or other rumored cabinet names (maybe John Kerry or Bill Richardson, but he would simply be displacing Clinton). In other words, Obama's cabinet will likely contain a lot of smart, strong-willed individuals, but not necessarily more presidential aspirants than Lincoln. In other words, it would look an awful lot like... George W. Bush's first cabinet. 2. The bigger difference is that the federal government during the 1860s really was a cabinet government -- Lincoln had just a handful of staffers like John Hay - and no one like Rahm Emanuel. In contrast, as Marc Ambinder has repeatedly pointed out, Obama seems to be much more focused on staffing the White House than his cabinet. So in contrast to Lincoln, Obama has more than his personal political skills at his disposal to manage his cabinet departments. That said, it's pretty smart for Obama and his staff to spread this meme around. First, it flatters all of his cabinet officers to think that they're like Seward, Salmon Chase et al. Second, by invoking the metaphor, Obama gets to frame his administration as evoking both the great challenges of the Civil War period and the greatness of Lincoln.
If President-elect Barack Obama taps Senator Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state, he would be giving her oversight of an area where the two former rivals diverged sharply during their prolonged primary battle: foreign policy. From their first clashes in the summer of 2007 through spring this year, Obama and Clinton fought bitterly over who had a deeper understanding of the world, exchanging sharp words over their international experience and their views on diplomacy, military strikes against terrorists, the right approach toward Iran, and the genesis of the Iraq war. It is the one arena in which Obama and Clinton articulated significantly different visions. On a host of other issues - taxes, healthcare, jobs, free trade, investments in renewable energy - their positions were often indistinguishable.And here's my quote:
Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, however, disputes the notion that Obama and Clinton differed significantly during the primary race on foreign affairs, arguing that on issues such as diplomacy, their heated rhetoric belied a broad similarity in approach. "A lot of the foreign policy skirmishes between the two were more about style than anything else," he said.Looking over Helman's evidence, I stand by my quote. In my memory, Obama and Clinton bickered more over health care than foreign policy (though they clearly bickered about both), and their sharpest disagreement was about the Iraq decision in 2002/3. They had to disagree on something because it was a primary and they needed to differentiate themselves. That does not mean there is a lot of daylight between them on substantive policy questions. Readers are encouraged to tell me if they think my assessment is wrong. I have two additional thoughts abut Hillary as SoS:
Thus far, much of the commentary in Washington, in the pages of major newspapers and on the Web, has been against providing financial support for the companies, which they will say they desperately need in hearings beginning on Tuesday. The waves of criticism have been so strong that Susan Tompor, a columnist for The Detroit Free Press, was moved to write on Sunday’s front page: “I never knew Detroit was a dirty word.” It is a remarkable shift for an industry that has long wielded considerable clout in Washington. But that support has dwindled for many reasons, leaving backers of a bailout, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, having a tough time making their case that Detroit should be saved. So how did the famous 1953 quotation from the former General Motors president Charles E. Wilson — that what was good for our country was good for G.M., and vice versa — become a dated notion to so many people?Maynard provides a bunch of reasons that boil down to resentment at management's ineptitude and the UAW's cushy and bloated Job Bank system. Columnists are quoted saying the rest of America hates Detroit. I don't doubt that these factors play something of a role. But I do think there's a more basic trend at work -- domestic-based auto manufacturers simply employ far fewer people than in the past, while foreign-based auto manufacturers employ far more than in the past. As a result, Detroit commands far less political support than in the past. It's not hate -- it's that Detroit's Big Three, while still important, are not nearly as important as they used to be.
That's cute, but here's what's truly odd about Palin's complaint about bloggers -- they helped to make her. Let's revisit that Jane Mayer essay on Palin from The New Yorker, shall we?:
During her gubernatorial campaign, Bitney said, he began predicting to Palin that she would make the short list of Republican Vice-Presidential prospects. “She had the biography, I told her, to be a contender,” he recalled. At first, Palin only laughed. But within a few months of being sworn in she and others in her circle noticed that a blogger named Adam Brickley had started a movement to draft her as Vice-President... [Adam] Brickley registered a Web site—palinforvp.blogspot.com—which began getting attention in the conservative blogosphere. In the month before Palin was picked by McCain, Brickley said, his Web site was receiving about three thousand hits a day. Support for Palin had spread from one right-of-center Internet site to the next. First, the popular conservative blogger InstaPundit mentioned Brickley’s campaign. Then a site called the American Scene said that Palin was “very appealing”; another, Stop the A.C.L.U., described her as “a great choice.” The traditional conservative media soon got in on the act: The American Spectator embraced Palin, and Rush Limbaugh, the radio host, praised her as “a babe.”
A seven-page questionnaire being sent by the office of President-elect Barack Obama to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts may be the most extensive — some say invasive — application ever. The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.Here's a link to the actual questionnaire. I think Question 10 would do me in:
Writings: Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column, or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or "handles" you have used to communicate on the Internet.This rules me out -- but I really pity the poor RA at Harvard tasked to answer this question for Cass Sunstein.
Check out the whole conversation. Longtime readers of danieldrezner.com, who have served in political appointments in the executive branch, are encouaged to proffer their own advice in the comments.
President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as his White House chief of staff is the latest demonstration of a quality Obama showed repeatedly over the course of his campaign: He’s willing to do what it takes to win. If his goal had been to create a cordial bipartisan tone in Washington — much less a calm, profanity-free West Wing — Obama would have looked elsewhere.Smith & Harris' lead is pretty much how people are reading this pick -- which strikes me as idiotic. Looking back, is there any correlation between the combativeness of the chief of staff and the exent of bipartisan comity? George H.W. Bush's first chief of staff, John Sununu, rubbed a lot of people the wrong way -- but one can hardly call Bush 41 a hyperpartisan president. George W. Bush's first chief of staff, Andy Card, had a reputation as a mild-mannered, moderate kind of guy -- but the first term of Bush 43 wasn't exactly brimming with bipartisanship. The fact is that the extent of bipartisan cooperation in DC has little to do with the temperment of the chief of staff and everything to do with the preferences and leadership styles of the President and the majority and minority leaders of Congress. Maybe things will be nasty between Obama and the GOP -- but I seriously doubt if Emanuel will have much to do with it one way or the other.
Summers's brilliance made him simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting to work for--a whirlwind of intellectual energy fueled by an endless supply of Diet Coke. "I remember once giving him a memo that was three pages long," recalls Steve Radelet, a onetime Harvard economist who worked for both Summers and Geithner. "I'd worked on it for days and days. He read it in a minute and a half. He looked at me, saying, 'I don't agree with your argument. But, if I were making your argument, I could have made it better. Here's how.' "I heard a boatload of stories like this when I was at Treasury. I should also add that I heard nothing but good things about Geithner. Based on what I know and hear about both men, my slight preference would probably be for Geithner, but on policy grounds I don't think there is a bad choice to be made between these two. Politically, I see that there's already an effort to spike Summers. Over at the Huffington Post, Max Blumenthal is claiming that Summers' authored a controversial World Bank memo advocating environmental dumping in the developing world. Regardless of the intrinsic merits of this position, Blumenthal's allegaion is horses**t. To read what actually happened, click here. Hat tip: Ben Smith. UPDATE: Fortune's Andy Serwer thinks Summers has the inside track.
Election Day profoundly affects the lives, hopes and dreams of D.C. policy people—in the form of what they might be doing for the next four years. For foreign-policy analysts, there are really only two states of being—being in charge of American foreign policy and desperately wanting to be in charge of American foreign policy.Read the whole thing. [So does this mean you're lobbying for an administration position? Is this why you decided to vote for Obama?--ed.] No and no. Like the president-elect, I have young children that are quite comfortable where they are. Unlike the president-elect, the government wouldn't be providing us swanky public housing if we moved to DC.
Pretty clearly, the Obamacon phenomenon is on the whole not really an endorsement of Obama or anything he proposes to do, which is why most of the endorsements coming from the right cannot withstand much scrutiny. That’s the whole point: the Republican ticket is so unappealing to these people that they will vote for its defeat in full knowledge that there is little or nothing to say on behalf of the man they’re electing.He's got a point -- when I read the policy platforms of both candidates, I like more of McCain's than Obama's. But recall what I said way back in January:
[T]hings like pesonality and leadership style are relevant to voting decisions (and are tough to capture in suveys). A candidate’s policy positions are not the only thing that matter. The way in which the candidate will try to implement these policies matters too. I wouldn’t vote for a candidate who shared my precise policy positions but decided to implement them by constitutionally questionable methods, for example. Process matters just as much as substance.And this is where I disagree with Larison. The one positive trait that conservatives of all stripes have linked to Barack Obama is his first-rate temperament. A more conservative way of saying this is that Obama understands and practices prudence. This doesn't mean that he's timid -- simplu put, he reflects before he acts. Does this mean that I agree with everything Obama says and does? Hardly. I do, however, respect the way in which he arrives at his decisions. I can't say the same thing about John McCain's decision-making process.
Apparently Gen. David Petraeus does not agree with the Bush administration that the road to Damascus is a dead end. ABC News has learned, Petraeus proposed visiting Syria shortly after taking over as the top U.S. commander for the Middle East. The idea was swiftly rejected by Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon. Petraeus, who becomes the commander of U.S. Central Command (Centcom) Friday, had hoped to meet in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Petraeus proposed the trip, and senior officials objected, before the covert U.S. strike earlier this week on a target inside Syria's border with Iraq. Officials familiar with Petraeus' thinking on the subject say he wants to engage Syria in part because he believes that U.S. diplomacy can be used to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran. He plans to continue pushing the idea. "When the timing is right, we ought to go in there and have a good discussion with the Syrians," said a Defense Department official close to Petraeus. "It's a meaningful dialogue to have." Petraeus would likely find a more receptive audience for his approach in an Obama administration, given Barack Obama's views on the need to engage America's enemies.Steve Benen makes an interesting observation about the timing of this story:
Not only is Petraeus at odds with Bush, but people close to him are leaking this information just a few days before the presidential election. What's more, it reinforces the dynamic that's been apparent for a while -- when it comes to a national security strategy predicated on diplomacy, Obama and Petraeus are on one side, while McCain and Bush are on the other.That might be ascibing intent to Petraeus when none existed -- leaks happen for all kinds of reasons -- but it is an interesting development. Developing.... P.S. In other news about foreign policy realists, it sure seems like those supporting McCain are doing so in a very passive-aggressive fashion.
Those dressing up as Palin are certainly finding unlikely partners, such as wolves, Eskimos and babies, managers said. But the key to any good Palin, it seems, is her trademark glasses. “They’ve been pretty popular,” said Billy Ray of The Fun Tree, a costume shop in Fort Myers. Because there are no Palin masks yet, her glasses have become perhaps the most distinctive political Halloween accessory since a 1998-vintage cigar. “This is as big as Monica Lewinsky,” said Masquerade owner Barbara Baier. The Lewinsky scandal was a time when her store always kept a sailor hat, a wig and yes, a cigar, on the front counter, such was the demand.The Toronto Star's Tracy Nesdoly as some useful tips for those who want to try the full Palin for their costume.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.