Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Napolitano and Obama

The very silly story going on is that the old cable-news line, "some people say," has now been affixed to "Napolitano should resign," because she said, "the system worked," in its response to the boxer-briefs bomber. First, let's get this straight: No one should have to resign for having their words taken out of context. And people should be allowed to say at least one stupid thing on the job before there are reportedly "calls" for their resignation. Joe Biden says this crap all the time and no one seems to mind that. All asking for Napolitano's resignation would serve would be to fuel the flames and make Obama look weak -- so Obama was right to show that he's firmly behind her.

However, with all that said, I do think a point should be raised here. Why Napolitano? Obama had some sort of Governor fetish when he was selecting his cabinet members, instead of going after competent individuals with unceasing experience in the field. He wanted the big-name All-Star Team lineup, instead of the high-on-base percentage lineup that typically beats the All Star team. I'm sure Napolitano is actually a very competent person and has done a solid job with her new office, but not only did Obama rob Arizona of a very strong Democrat in that state who could have defeated McCain in his next reelection bid, but he did so at the cost of a position where he probably could have hired someone who would have been quietly better.

This is even more relevant with former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Not only has she a few of her own hiccups in the administration, and not only was she silent on health care reform when she was head of Health and Human Services, and not only did Obama's selection of Sebelius rob us of a popular Kansas Democrat who could have won a Senate seat there, of all places, but there could have been dozens of better picks for the job, some (like Howard Dean) who would have been able to do much more with the position.

Obama's desire to surround himself with political All Stars in his cabinet may have made him feel better about himself and feed his ego, and it may have made for some great press coverage in the beginnings of his administration, but the fact of the matter is it wasn't what was best for this country, the Democratic Party or his own administration in the long run. He should have made picks that were far more relevant for the position, focusing on people who had a lifelong record of superior service to this country in the relevant fields -- not just Governors or Senators who often bring as much baggage to the table as skills. This is just one of the many areas in which Obama can hope to improve upon in the future.

1 comment:

James Patrick Conway said...

Gotta agree-nowhere is this clearer than with Clinton or Sebelius. I think the best cabinet pick was Steven Chu, my dad and I looked at each other dumb struck and said "wow they actually got a physicist to head the energy department-definitely would not have got that under Bush'. Also getting a statewide EPA director, instead of another political hack was also a good move. Holder another good choice that could have been filled by a celebrity politician instead of a career Justice department official. Well there's always four years from now, I'm just worried that Sebelius and Napalitano won't be able to come back to their home states and win future offices for the party. And for the country's sake its clear their both in over their heads.

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