Are There Any Other Qualified People In America Other Than Clintonites?

by: David Sirota

Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 21:57

I ask this question without making a value judgment - are there any other qualified people in America other than permanent Washington, D.C. dwellers who were part of the Clinton administration?

I ask this based on the Obama appointments - my back-of-the-envelope estimate is that they are 90 percent Clinton administration officials.

Now, I don't think this means that the Obama administration will automatically be Bill Clinton's third term, with all the corresponding incrementalism and triangulation.

But it is kind of creepy. For all the talk of "change," I'm really curious whether Barack Obama thinks there are any worthy, smart, well-qualified people who aren't part of permanent Washington and who didn't serve in the Clinton administration? Certainly, his campaign apparatus appreciated that. But it doesn't seem like his transition team does (a transition team, of course, dominated by former Clinton officials).

David Sirota :: Are There Any Other Qualified People In America Other Than Clintonites?

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"Creepy" isn't a value judgment? (4.00 / 3)

Not really (3.60 / 10)
A problem Bill Clinton encountered when going to Washington, was that there were not a lot of qualified Democrats in town when he showed up. There was a lot of hullabaloo early in his term about that.

Given that Clinton was the only recent Democratic president, and Obama wants experienced people... Most of them are going to be Clintonites.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

Exactly (4.00 / 6)
Clinton was in office for eight years. That's a long time and a lot of people who cycled through.

If you want Democrats with federal experience, you have to look at former Clinton people.

[ Parent ]
Federal Experience (4.00 / 2)
I think that experience in federal government is good for people with political jobs.  Cheif of Staff is plausibly such a position.  But for policy formation and department management positions, it doesn't seem to me that federal experience is that necessary.  I would rather have economists who actually understood what happened in the 1990s than I would like to have a Clinton official in treasury who knows the town.

[ Parent ]
how many appointments are there yet? (0.00 / 0)
AG? Chief of Staff? I guess you aren't counting "Senior Advisors," but you need 10 before you can get 90%.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Um... (4.00 / 1)
Transition chief--check
VP chief of staff--check
Secretary of state--check
WH counsel--check
Likely Treasury secretaries--check

Just off the top of my head...

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
and off mine (4.00 / 5)
Press secretary (Gibbs) no
Senior Adviser (Axelrod) no
Senior Adviser (Jarrett) no
Treasury Secretary candidate (Corzine) no
Vice President no

You've got to get working to get to 90%.  Good luck.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
I never said 90% (0.00 / 0)
Show me where I did. But if you want to deny that the Clinton presence in the Obama team isn't massive, you go right ahead.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Why don't we look at actual appointments (4.00 / 3)
to the administration.

Chief of Staff -Rahm Emanuel (Clinton Administration)
Deputy CoS -Mona Sutphen (Former Career Foreign Service)
Deputy CoS -Jim Messina (CoS to Sens Baucus and Dorgan)
Senior Advisor -Pete Rouse (CoS to Sens Obama and Daschle)
Senior Advisor -Valerie Jarrett (City of Chicago)
Assistant to Pres for Legislative Affairs -Phil Schiliro (CoS to Waxman)
VP CoS -Ron Klain (Clinton Administration)

2 Clinton Administration Officials, 5 non-Clintonites

Rumored Likely Appointments

Press Secretary -Robert Gibbs (Press Secretary for Sen Hollings, Sen Kerry, and Sen Obama)
Senior Advisor -David Axelrod (Advisor to Sen Obama)
Attorney General -Eric Holder (Clinton Administration, with Obama in 08)
Secretary of State -Hillary Clinton (Clinton Administration)
White House Counsel -Greg Craig (Clinton Adminstration, with Obama in 08)
OMB Director -Peter Orszag(CBO/Clinton Administration)

4 Clintonites (2 which were with Obama from the beginning), 2 non-Clintonites.

So even if we are counting anyone who served in the Clinton administration, it is only 50%, nowhere near 90%

"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak" -Paul Wellstone

[ Parent ]
Like I said about (0.00 / 0)
I never said 90%. But it's clearly Clinton-heavy, as you yourself show.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
90% was in the opening post, which you're defending (4.00 / 3)
So - if you're not saying 90%, you ought to be on board with a statement to wit:  a lot of the experienced people on the democratic side naturally once worked for Clinton, and before that, the last democratic president was in the 70s.  So yes - you're bound to have a preponderance of Clinton folks, but Obama is doing pretty good making sure his own folks are on board to make it a genuinely 'Obama' administration."


Visit the Obama Project

[ Parent ]
The larger point (0.00 / 0)
is that there are a lot of talented Dems who didn't hold high positions under Clinton. I'm worried about the Clintonesque Clintonites, like Summers, Rubin, Emanuel, CLINTON, etc. I want to see as few of these as possible, and more progressives. Both politically and policy-wise, Clinton took the party and country in some bad directions, that I don't want to see repeated. And bringing too many of the high-level neoliberal Clinton people who pushed for these makes it more likely that they will.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Dude... Don't take him so literal (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
sure (4.00 / 1)
I know he is not really being literal, but the problem is that if the true number is 50% it's hard to see how anyone should think it is "creepy."  This is especially true when the media is primarily interested in the DC people they know. But maybe it is better to exaggerate for effect.  I certainly also hope we see more people from the states.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
Its only been two weeks...... (4.00 / 1)
Why not take him literally? I mean.....we're two weeks past the election and already people are griping, making statements that are stretching the truth.

And while we're on the subject, what's so wrong with people from the Clinton administration? Most of them were pretty competent and the country worked fairly well under Clinton. Meanwhile, Obama ran one of the best campaigns in decades. I think he will do right by us when picking out his staff.

[ Parent ]
I keep hoping I'll hear that... (0.00 / 0)
Howard Dean will be offered a Cabinet level position but the Establishment Dems won't allow that.  

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

Dean and Obama (0.00 / 0)
I would forgive Dean his toadying on the Lieberman issue if something happens where I can see in retrospect that he was positioning himself as a "team player" to move into a cabinet post.

[ Parent ]
You might be right (4.00 / 5)

  Howard Dean rebuilds a decrepit party infrastructure and oversees two huge Democratic victories in successive election cycles, and he gets kicked to the curb. Joe Lieberman sabotages and trashes the party and its candidates, and he gets a big wet kiss from the "leadership".

  A better summation of the moral bankruptcy of the Dem establishment could not be invented.


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
I was at a luncheon with Richard Wolffe of Newsweek (4.00 / 2)
He was asked about Howard Dean.  He said thee seems to be no role for Howard Dean.

That feels right.  You just get the feeling that the Obama team just doesn't like Howard.  I have felt that for some time.

That would be very sad...Howard was a very important person for the Democratic party...very important

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
They hate Howard and they love Joe (4.00 / 4)

 Somebody explain to me why I should support this party and this administration.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
I hope I am wrong (0.00 / 0)
Why that is?  Who knows?

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
The alternative? (0.00 / 0)
Otherwise, you're supporting Republicans. And Republicans want to spy in your bedroom, start pointless wars, torture, spy on your phone calls, disappear people, privatize/dismantle social security, destroy public education, shoot old dudes in the face, etc.

I know "the other guys are worse" is a pretty weak argument, but they're really A LOT worse. So far, Democrats have just done a few annoying things. Howard Dean never planned on doing more than one term as DNC head, and Joe Lieberman sucks, but it's really a minor issue compared to the big policy fights ahead.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Well, spying is a bipartisan activity. (4.00 / 2)
And I never did give another dime to Obama after FISA.  Money went to other electoral fights.

[ Parent ]
You should wait (4.00 / 7)
until after he gets the dog.  Will he get a poodle, a Rottweiler, a German Shepard, or that hairless thing from Peru?  A dog says much more about a person than silly things like campaign promises or human appointments.

Only after he gets the dog, will we be able to understand the secret keys to his character - then you can decide whether to support the administration.  Maybe he will appear cold to the dog, which will confirm that he really is an elitist who can't relate to common people, or perhaps that he an Michelle aren't entirely as happy as they appear (forshadowing a new Lewisky-like scandal).  Maybe he'll be lax with the dog's housebreaking, and that will be more evidence of his socialist tendencies.

This is what is meant by those who say we don't know Obama well yet.  He needs to get the dog, work on the White House menu, important things like that.  Only a political novice would judge the administration by appointments.

[ Parent ]
He'll probably... (4.00 / 4)
...get a decendent of Buddy, due to the Clinton ties.

[ Parent ]
of course (0.00 / 0)
that's assuming Buddy wasn't "fixed". Which would be kind of funny for a Clinton dog.  

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers

[ Parent ]
Buddy (0.00 / 0)
Met his demise under mysterious circumstances. We probably don't want to go there.

[ Parent ]
universal health care, green energy, tax fairness, net neutrality, EFCA (4.00 / 2)
a decade from now, they are what we'll remember, because that's what we'll have @#%$ing passed when history handed us the opportunity and we kicked ass.  not the little, bitter injustices -- of which there'll be a thousand more.

yes, it hurts.  let's clear our heads, toughen up and keep our eyes on the ball.

(back on board yet? :)

[ Parent ]
Where would that come from? (4.00 / 3)
Obama supported Howard, including keeping him on board for the convention.  Why would the Obama team "not like" Howard?

I'm not disputing - this is just the first I'm hearing of this.  It has always seemed to me that there were two camps, and Obama was largely in the Dean camp.  


Visit the Obama Project

[ Parent ]
Health and Human Services... (4.00 / 2)
I'd love him in that role.

[ Parent ]
Clintonites (4.00 / 2)
Are There Any Other Qualified People In America Other Than Clintonites?

Which didn't you like, the peace or the prosperity?

Anyway, it could be worse

I didn't like (4.00 / 2)
the commitment to IMF style globalization, deregulation, fiscal conservativism, market based solutions that effectively cut people's benefits, Sistah Soujah moments, triangulation in general, the slow movement on addressing the genocide in the former Yugoslavia, the complete lack of movement with regards to Rwanda, the inept handling of what was likely the best chance for a Mid-east peace pact, just to name a few things.

Clinton was a huge opportunity cost.  It is hard for me to see his presidency as anything else.

[ Parent ]
We could have done without (4.00 / 1)
the capitulation on DOMA, NAFTA, DADT, etc., turning the Democratic party into the Clinton party, the triangulation, the policy-killing and Bush-aiding pecadillos, ignoring Rwanda--and the Balkans for years--screwing up universal health insurance, repealing Glass-Steagall, disasterous neoliberalism, appointing Louis Freh, etc.

If you're going to look at the Clinton years, you need to look at the whole picture.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
We could also do without that FISA bill. (4.00 / 1)
And let's not forget that Obama turned the Dems very much into the Obama party during the campaign (not that I want to criticize his successful strategy, just pointing it out).
And then, Obama's Lieberman aiding stance, his open preference for having republicans in his administration, some of the names, like Larry Summers, floated for official position should really be reason for concerns to you. It very well may be that Obama will become a similar disappointment like Clinton for you. Especially if Congress screws up again, doesn't deliver on the promises, and a backlash in 2010 produces a republican majority in one of the Houses. Hell, come to think of it, a simple strengthening of their Senate force would be good enough for the GOP to allow them filibustering every single progressive bill that may come up for a vote. And then, what, Obama?

No misunderstanding pls, I hope that real change will happen, but comparing the Clinton presidency with the possible achievements of the Obama presidency now, based totally on whishful thinking, seems like a very unfair standard to me.

[ Parent ]
Qualifications (0.00 / 0)
Experience can transform, but in this case, one suspects that it simply certifies the ability to do what-has-already-been-done. Which led us here, which is not where any one in his right mind wants to be.

Battleship admirals can not be persuaded, not, at least, by anyone who hasn't spent his career on a battleship's bridge. We should ask the captain to lower a launch, and take us ashore forthwith. (Being equipped with sensitive antennae, we've already heard the drone of approaching Nakajimas. What happens next is best observed from a distance, and preferably from a suitably deep hole in terra firma.)

Radical idea (0.00 / 0)
Here's a radical idea. Why don't we judge the Obama Administration based on its statements and actions? I know, what a crazy crazy idea.

Actions (4.00 / 2)
like naming people to various positions?  Running the federal bureaucracy is one of Obama's cheif jobs and he runs it by handing most matters over to the people he is now naming to/offering positions.  He is already engaged in the kinds of decisions that determine how the country will be governed.

[ Parent ]
Two levels of action (4.00 / 2)
First, the appointment, then the action of the appointee.  Neither starts until January 20.

There isn't any reason why these smart appointees can't implement Obama's vision (assuming it's different than Clinton's, which I doubt).

There isn't any reason to assume that these appointees were 100% satisfied with the political choices they had in the 90s, and would do differently if they had more maneuvering room.  

There has been NO action.  

[ Parent ]
Response (0.00 / 0)
If your point is that Obama is only the president elect until Jan. 20th and not the president, it might occur to you that everyone knows that, and so that this is not the relevant fact to be debating.

If you think that as president elect he cannot make policy decisions or have an impact on the current political scene, I really don't know what to tell you.  Do you think that because he made a decision in December he will, on Jan. 20th think to himself 'Well I thought that was a good idea before I was president.  Now everything is different'?  Do you think that his saying that he wants Lieberman should keep his seat had no effect on the vote?

As for your claim that Clinton appointees might behave differently now than they did in the 90's, I suppose there is room for legitimate disagreement here.  You think, I suppose that they couldn't forsee what would come of their decisions in the 90's, and so have no come to see that they were mistaken.  I think the consequences of deregulation, globalization and the like were forseeable (because they were forseen by others), so I think they are not particularly unhappy with the results of their policies.  Sure they probably think Bush didn't do enough to insulate the wider credit markets from the impact of the housing bubble popping, but there is no reason that I can see to think they are uncomfortable with the widening inequality of the Clinton years, or with the fact that speculative bubbles were allowed to form, or that union membership declined in the Clinton years.  I think these people either intended for these results to occur, or just didn't care.  Either way I don't want them.  But I don't know them.  Maybe they are just bad at their jobs.

[ Parent ]
Response to response (4.00 / 2)
1.  Are you suggesting that this isn't a stark contrast between Obama's influence before and after January 20?

2.  I don't know, exactly, what his "impact on the current political scene" is at the moment.  He threw his hat in with Lieberman, but it looked to me like Lieberman would have won anyway.  He's not having any impact that I can see on the auto bailout.  

3.  Who, exactly, was bad at their jobs?  Clinton was a free trader, for example, before he hired a single advisor.  Neither Clinton nor Obama are dummies - in the Bush administration there is likely a great deal of selective imformation pushing, but I think that Clinton and Obama probably both are the sorts that want to be fully briefed on all options.  Advisors implement policy, and the most effective advisors are those that are well-connected.  They implement the policies of the administration, and the policies of the administration aren't abstractions, but the path that will be chosen, once the President takes office, which may be a significantly different path that mapped out during the campaign, or may appear possible today.  Advisors don't always agree with the policy selected.

If Obama put some hardline ideologues in his cabinet, that might be a reflection of what he thinks, but I don't think that case can be seriously made.

As to the rest, I have no interest in mindreading.  I don't know what consequence you think who intended, but I would start by what that person said in real time.  

[ Parent ]
Pragmatic... (0.00 / 0)
I'm guessing Obama is being Pragmatic about his advisors...  1) He wants people that disagree with him (as he has publically said)... based on the campaign, one could argue that would be Clintonites.  Of course it isn't that simple.      Which leads us to 2) He wants his agenda passed... now... while he has a HUGE advantage.    No one knows what will happen in 2010 (I can tell you in Nov of 2004 I sure as hell didn't think we'd take back both houses just 2 years later) so he seems to be appointing people who have ties with congress, washington etc.

In other words... His VISION of Washington, using many of the pieces around him     that are the old Washington... change from the inside out.   Whether it works or not remains to be seen.    

You know... (4.00 / 2)
There is the issue that aside from Clinton, there hasn't been a Democratic administration since the 1970s. That's why I'm not up in arms with any appointments that had ties to the Clinton White House...I'd rather have experienced people running the nuts and bolts - because it's going to be Obama who is directing policy.

Experience outside of Washington (0.00 / 0)
There is not a doubt in my mind that Paul Krugman knows more about what is wrong with the economy and how to fix it than either Larry Summers or Bob Rubin do.  I accept your point in relation to certain positions, where what you are doing is massaging the egos of corrupt congressmen and Senators.  But when it comes to actually making policy and figuring out how to convince the American people it is a good idea, I don't think the Clinton people are actually that good at making good policy or knowing how to sell good policy to the American people (it might be that they were only bad at the second task and so never really engaged in the first).

[ Parent ]
but those people don't leak to the DC press (4.00 / 1)
so they're not rumored yet.  simple.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
Except Krugman has stated .. (0.00 / 0)
he has no interest in a job .. he's not suited to that kind of work .. playing the DC politics game .... Buffett won't be SecTreas because he likes his routine .. and likes his time unencumbered .. neither of which would happen in DC

[ Parent ]
The biggest difference between Obama and Clinton: (4.00 / 4)
It might not be the temperament, philosophy, or ideology, but something else: Bill Clinton never had a Congress this progressive.

Bill Clinton, like Obama, wanted to get things done, and in order to get things done that helped the country, he had to sign legislation with some rather odious elements in order to get them through Congresses controlled by Republican ideologues and/or DINOs.

Had Clinton had anything like the current Congress to work with, the country would likely be a far better, more progressive place today.

So perhaps we should remember the unfinished, progressive business left on the plate of these Clintonistas that was simply DOA in the face of Republican-controlled Congresses.

There are qualifications (4.00 / 1)
and there is experience.

If you want to run the government effectively, it is best to appoint people with government experience.  Since we have had exactly 1 Democratic Administration in the last 3 decades, it is pretty logical that Obama is appointing people who worked in the Clinton Administration.  However, Obama is also going outside the Clinton people, bringing in folks from the Hill who were never part of the Clinton team.  Finally, I dislike the notion that spending one's life working in public service in D.C. is somehow negative.

"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak" -Paul Wellstone

Fair points (4.00 / 1)
Except I take issue with the "public service" part.

I find the idea that most of these people are steadfastly dedicating themselves to a noble and selfless purpose rather laughable.

[ Parent ]
I get the part about how (0.00 / 0)
Obama needs to hire Dems who have some Democratic administration experience to help him be ready on day one, which unless Brzezinski's looking for another WH gig and Tweety wants to leave Hardball, means Clintonites. I also get how many if not most of the Democratic talent pool probably worked for the Clinton administration at some point--including some progressive favorites like Reich and Shalala. What I don't get is the sheer percentage of Obama picks who were Clintonites. Did they have a lock on all the Democratic talent? What about Obama's team from the campaign and Illinois, other than Jarrett and Axelrod? There's no one else available?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

Pearls of wisdom from Pat Buchanan (4.00 / 4)
Pat Buchanan spent the last 90 seconds of his turn on Hardball tonight advocating that Obama needs to give "at least one" or "two or three" prominent posts to "the Kos crowd."

Said Pat:

If you're going to bring in the unity side you also have to bring in the folks that carried you through the primaries and won it for you.

They ought to find someone who represents those people and give him a prominent position, someone those folks can look to...

Joan Walsh said of it:

Buchanan is no friend of the left, obviously, but he's an old-time pol who understands the importance of keeping the base happy. Too many Democrats seem to think the first thing they should do when they get power is display contempt for their base.

[ Parent ]
something like 50% of major appointments (0.00 / 0)
worked in the Clinton administration. Hopeful in NJ and DFLer did the calculations upthread.

So I'm not quite seeing where the concern is. All those Chicago people Obama appointed to senior positions in the White House do exist, you know.  

[ Parent ]
50% isn't excessive? (0.00 / 0)
Look, if the early appointees turn out to be a lot more Clinton-heavy than the overall, final list, that's one thing. But if this ends up being a 50% Clinton people administration--especially the neoliberal DLCesque kind, as opposed to Reich and Shalala--then sure, it'll be a valid cause for concern. When people said change, they didn't mean back to the 90's and all that corporate DINO Republican Lite crap. They were talking about progressive change, not neoClintonism.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
no, I don't think 50% is excessive (4.00 / 2)
First of all, I think it is quite reasonable for Obama to want some people with experience in the executive branch in his administration. To get those people, he basically has to draw on folks who served in the Clinton administration. Who exactly should Obama be turning to for executive experience if not Clinton folks?

Second, at least two of appointees with experience in the Clinton administration (Holder and Orszag) seem to me to be the very opposite of DLCesque neoliberals. I've read nothing but praise for Orszag from progressives (and wasn't he one of the key people who defeated social security privatization?). Holder has some baggage from the Rich pardon, sure. But he's also spoken out eloquently against torture, warrantless wiretapping, and rendition, which are the key issues in front of the DOJ in the next couple of years. So the very fact of having served in the Clinton administration isn't some automatic black mark, IMO.

I will agree with you that I would be rather disappointed if Obama recycled Clinton cabinet secretaries into their old posts (Summers is the particular concern here). But for the moment, I'm willing to judge people more on their merits than their past affiliations.

[ Parent ]
Orszag is a Rubin protege (0.00 / 0)
And you may be thinking of his predecessor, Republican Holtz-Eakin, on helping to push back on social security privatization. He was actually quite good on that, refusing to lie in order to sell it. I don't know why he went all wingnutty working for McCain.

And obviously, Obama has to pick many former Clintonites. But if he overdoes it, it'll look like a Team of Retreads (which the Village has started to refer to it as). And I'm more concerned about WHICH Clintonites he brings on board, more than how many.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
A few points: (4.00 / 1)
Most of our experienced people are Clintonistas.  Our experienced people from past Democratic administrations are generally either retired or dead.

I'm not sure why everybody's so pissed off about Holder.  He's good on torture, from what I've read, and he's opposed to the death penalty.  Wants to roll back to expansion of executive power.  These are kind of, you know, our issues at Justice, aren't they?

Last point, about the Chiquita thing: Good lawyers represent bad clients.  And they should.  The system would be even more unjust and generally fucked up than it already is if they didn't.

I'm with many of you all the way on being uncomfortable with so many Clintonistas around, but I'm not with those who are going ballistic over Holder.  For God's sake, get a grip.

I like the Holder pick (4.00 / 2)
The only issue is the Mark Rich thing, and that's not a deal-breaker (and he wasn't like a huge cheerleader for it or anything).

Also, Peter Orszag at OMB is very good. Also.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 2)
Holder is a fantastic pick. He issued a neutral to favorable opinion on one of hundreds of requests. It's not like he was a long time pal of Rich's who decided to work aggressively to get him pardoned.

And I agree with Drew on Chiquita. I know lawyers who are quite progressive but have represented defense contractors, murderers, Wal-Mart, HMO's and many other horrible clients. If your going to dig through every case a lawyer has handled no experienced lawyer will fit your tastes.

And Orszag is fantastic. My only worry is that he would have been very helpful at the CBO. Hopefully someone equally good replaces him.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
Marc with a C (4.00 / 1)
And from what I've read, Holder just carried out Clinton's request, and this didn't originate with him. You really think he was going to refuse the president's request on his last day, or resign? So I'm not upset with Holder over this. I'm much more interested in what his views on the big legal issues of today are--torture, warrantless wiretaps, executive power--and from what I've read, they're good. Of course, how he persues these--and possible investigations into past executive branch crimes--is ultimately up to his boss.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
State government farm teams (4.00 / 7)
It takes a lot of Washington DC elitist arrogance to believe that the best people to carry out policy and administrative jobs in an Obama administration are people who have served in DC under the Clintons.  In the last 25 years, there have been hundreds of complicated/sophisticated Democratic administrations at state, county, and municipal levels. Many of our states are larger than most countries.  Let us not forget the vast academic universe of thousands of colleges/universities, millions of businesses and non-profits. The failure to think out of the box and to exploit the vast intellectual resources outside DC is breath-taking. Come to think of it, time to go get my inhaler.....

Clintonites (4.00 / 5)
Serving in the Clinton Administration does not make one a Clintonite.  If you're a Democrat and you didn't work for the Clinton Administration, you are either very very old or you have no experience.  To me, "Clintonites" means people like Terry McAuliffe, who were Clinton's retainers, who supported HRC over Obama.  "Clintonites" can't just mean anyone who had a job in the Clinton Administration.  Is Linda Tripp a "Clintonite"?

I remember the people Clinton appointed -- people like Derek Shearer and Ira Magaziner.  They were people I had read and whose work on economic democracy I had admired years before Clinton was elected.  They weren't (I told myself) left over "Carterites".  And when they were appointed they had no experience and their performance was a disaster. Right wing asshole Democrats like David Boren and Bob Kerrey ate them for lunch.

I'm happy that Obama is appointing people who know their way around.  He's not going to have the luxury of having his people take six months to figure out where the bathroom is.

Would you rather (4.00 / 2)
he picked Republicans, really old people or no one with previous government experience? Beacuse those are the other options.

And he's got plenty of non-Clintonites in there as well. It's about 50/50 right now which is about what could be expected.

Also the only people closely associated with Bill's inner circle (Clintonites) are Rahm, Podesta and Craig. Many of the other people "served" in the Clinton Administration but were mostly lower level administrators not closely identified with the bad parts. For example, Joe Stiglitz served in the Clinton administration but that doesn't make him a Clintonite.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

why did people fall for "change" (4.00 / 1)
I'm baffled that people even fell for the "change" rhetoric in the first place.  Change is such a vague concept that it can mean different things to so many different people.  The only thing that unites Obama voters is their interest in getting him electing and ridding the country of Bush. Well, they got that change.  To Obama, change apparently just meant him changing his job from Senator to President.  I expect him to do what all party presidents have done throughout history: installing big party players into cabinet and other leadership roles.  Clinton-era Democrats have waited a long time to get these jobs.  Obama is handing out the benefits to them.  Ha Ha.  I love it.  Eye-opening experiences for young naive voters cannot be bad.

Change means NOT REPUBLICANS (0.00 / 0)
Change means NOT DOBSON running the show.  Change isn't about finding a Democratic Palin to parade around.  It is about replacing the Republicans.

[ Parent ]
That was Obama's argument during the primary? (0.00 / 0)
Any Democrat will do? A Clinton will do?

Change encompassed Clintonism.

[ Parent ]
Nose/face/spite (4.00 / 1)
He is the boss. He said he will change policy and practice. To get things done he needs people who know how to work in DC not a bunch of people who don't.

He could hire tons of brains from outside of DC and none of them would have the appropriate knowledge or relationships to get practical things done. But it would make some on the intarwebs happy. Until he failed because the people he has to convince aren't hearing it. Then he'd get blamed for not getting anything done.  

[ Parent ]
Yeah, Obama doesn't need any "Ira Magaziner" guys... (4.00 / 1)
as has already been pointed out by another commenter. Simply holding popular views isn't good enough, there has to be an emphasis on management qualificytions and social skills. What Obama certainly doesn't need are clueless officials without an antenna for what's achievable who will singlehandedly ruin any legislation they are supposed to get through Congress. And progressives shouldn't want such managers in the government, too. The goal has to be to get the most progressive laws implemented, not to see even more progressive bills fail.  

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
I agree with you -- but Obama demonized "Washington insiders," and anyone who had been in Washington for more than two years was such a person.  

[ Parent ]
Why two years? Did he say that? (0.00 / 0)
I missed that arbitrary description from him. I thought insiders were the game players. I have a friend who has been at the DHS, formerly at the DOJ, for a couple of decades and he's not an insider. He's just an employee.  

[ Parent ]
Do people who worked for Bill (4.00 / 2)
but endorsed Obama very early still fall under the realm of the Clinton's?  If they were all hardcore Clintonites why did they endorse Obama?  I realize that this doesn't address the idea of getting fresh faces into government, but I'm wondering how much say Obama is going to have in appointing those fresh faces to lower level positions.  Let them learn how government works so they can have a turn down the road.

One little thought to add.  About a week ago, there was all this speculation about who was going to be the new Treasury Sec.  Any chance these 'leaks' of other cabinet members isn't just a diversion to eliminate the speculation about the Tres. Sec.?    

data is helpful here (4.00 / 4)
i'm not making a value judgement about this post, but it would've been nice if you'd provided some names and numbers to go with your claim. your "estimate" is that "90%" of obama's people are former clinton officials. well, who are they? what positions did they hold?

you may be right, you may be wrong, but i can't tell from the post. and that's a shame, as this is exactly the sort of topic that the blogosphere is supposed to be good at detailing and expanding for discussion.

as it stands, i have sympathy to the argument that i think you're trying to make. i'm not all that impressed by previous experience in gov't. i think that a lot of "permanent" Villagers in a new obama admin would lead to less of the 'change' that this country really needs. otoh, i'm also of the opinion that there are some Dem officials who are terrific people, who could really get important things done in the different environment that is going to be President Obama's political landscape, which is very different from what Bill Clinton had to work with.

again, hard data is good. so where is it? i'm not a Villager; I don't have access to lists and gossip and insider baseball chatter. which clinton officials? which clinton, bill or HRC? for what positions? of what experience, during the clinton years, and since? you used a specific number. back it up, or know that this post can, and should be seen as a meaningless anticlinton screed, by those who like and defend the clintons.  

I'm so with you (0.00 / 0)
I think that Rahm is sort f a douche, but at the same time I think that that relatinship might workbecause Rahm knows the village and they are friends because of their dealings in Chicago.

I hate the Clinton appointment to SOS because one of the things that I loved about Obama was his humble aproach to foreignpolicy which Clinton did not embrace.

Let me go on record (4.00 / 1)
or as much record as I can go on in an anonymous post and say that I fully expect Son-of-Clinton during these next 8 years.  Now, things are so broken that it will seem great.  But I expect small moves and nothing major--no FDR or LBJ redux.  The people around Obama together with the financial situation will convince him he has to move cautiously and triangulate just as the people around Clinton and those financial times convinced him he had to move cautiously and triangulate.

It's a possibility... (0.00 / 0)
even though I hope it won't happen. But it could turn out that way, and that's why I think comparing Clinton's presidency to what people simply expect from Obama is totally unfair and a waste of time.

In the primaries, I predicted that many of the most enthusiastic Obama supporters would soon be disappointed about him. Then came FISA. And now I can only wonder if in sixteen years another generation of progressive hotheads will speak with as much disdain about the Obama presidency as some do about Clinton now.

[ Parent ]
of course they will (0.00 / 0)
I have been making that argument since the primaries.  Young people who embraced Obama believed that Clinton was just a nasty person. Why? Because the Republicans threw mud at the Clintons. Well, after socialism, flag-pin, terrorism, and Wright-gate, they now know that Obama is not immune from such attacks.  But once he compromises on policy AND gets in trouble with the GOP, then he should get into the same hot water as Clinton.

[ Parent ]
That certainly seems the likely outcome (0.00 / 0)
For all his change rhetoric, Obama has often shown himself to be a defender of the Washington Establishment. Consider that his only visit to Daily Kos, for example, was to scold Kossacks in September 2005 for being upset with Senate Dems who backed the Roberts confirmation.

My guess is Obama agrees with the substance of Clinton-era policies but believes he brings a better style to them.

[ Parent ]
Apparently there aren't any (4.00 / 1)
It's one thing to include a few folks from the Clinton years to show where the bodies are buried and how Washington works, but only to a point. Most of the innovative and actually useful work being done in government these days has been happening outside DC.

American history has a rich tradition of folks coming to DC from outside, and though they lacked DC experience, they more than made up for it with their skills and policies.

In short what we are seeing here is Obama embrace an experience over change argument. Whatever you think of the merits of the choices, this clearly isn't what was advertised during the 2008 campaign, although it IS what the evidence always suggested was going to happen.

Recommended... (0.00 / 0)
For the insight that the narrative has shifted from "change" to "experience." Obama ran a two-year campaign themed on change, and now that seems to have fallen over the side.

[ Parent ]
He ran on changes in policy and practice (4.00 / 1)
and to do that he needs people who know what they're doing.  

[ Parent ]
Netroots are disappointed (0.00 / 0)
because they bought into the hype, of Obama as savior, and the vague "change" slogan. You can be a lazy sack if you adopt Presidentialism.  I maintain we had no candidate once Edwards dropped, and should have put all our focus into the Congressional majority, particularly when republicans like Sullivan started supporting Obama.  That was an indication that Obama was going to win with right wing votes.

My blog  

Change is only vague (4.00 / 3)
if you haven't been paying attention.  

[ Parent ]
Cause the alternative was sooooo much better (0.00 / 0)
I don't agree with everything Obama's done so far, but the purity trolls around here have gone past the realm of self-parody. If Obama fails to please them with every breath, we would have been better off with a Republican.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
I don't know who you're talking to. (0.00 / 0)
or what you're talking about.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
You're making the argument... (4.00 / 1)
You're making the argument (or at least you appear to be), that Obama was not worth supporting. The alternative to that would likely have been President McCain. Even with larger congressional majorities, I fail to see how that outcome is better.

Getting a majority of the vote, particularly the significant majority that grants Obama a mandate, necessarily involved winning some middle of the road and Republican voters. That's the reality. Even if we nominated a magical pony candidate there isn't some magical pony electorate that would have been transported in from the Starship Enterprise to elect them.

I don't quite understand how getting the support of somebody like Andrew Sullivan somehow dooms the Obama administration. Policy is what matters, and every indication is that the policy coming out of Washington over the next few years is going to be the most progressive in generations. Maybe it won't be progressive enough for you or me, but it's going to be a dramatic improvement.

I completely understand anger with Lieberman or this or that action by Obama, but the doom and gloom here is way, way over the top.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Let it Go (4.00 / 3)
You've got to let Edwards go.  Thank goodness Edwards was dropped early on, otherwise we would now be debating how to fight the agenda of president McCain.

I can't speak for the entire Netroots, but I can assure you that "disappointed" is not the prevailing sentiment among the Netroots after regaining the White House and expanding in both houses of congress.  

[ Parent ]
Seems like he wants people (4.00 / 2)
who know what the hell their doing right away rather than folks who have to learn the wheels and levers of DC as they go along. Unfortunately, since Dems suck at winning the White House these days that limits his pool to Clinton people. Unless Bush people would be preferred...

How dare he! (4.00 / 2)
On what grounds does he justify being a pragmatist?! It's would be much better if he stuck up for principle instead of getting things done. /snark

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Try not to blow too many gaskets over the Clinton people, (4.00 / 2)
or you might not have any gaskets left to blow over the Republicans*. And that could be awkward.

* there will be Republicans

Clintonites (4.00 / 2)
Frankly David, I'm rather surprised that you would buy into this right-wing media talking point.  I suggest that you double-check the figures on your back-of-the-envelope estimate.  There is nowhere near 90 percent former Clinton officials on the Obama team.    

As Obama said repeatedly throughout the campaign, it was his desire to select members from all political persuasions to be a part of his administration.  Why some would suddenly appear shocked at this notion is beyond me.

Furthermore, there is a world of difference between a Clintonite and someone who is a former official of the Clinton administration.  It's important that we don't confuse the two and lump them all into one category.  One could point out that Robert Reich or Bill Richardson and others were part of the Clinton team, but few could argue that they are Clintonites.  Let's not forget that many former Clinton officials were part of the Obama team from the very start.  Are we to forever brand them as Clintonites because they were part of the Democratic team fifteen years ago?

Here we go again... (0.00 / 0)
Critiquing Obama buys into rightwing talking points.  Great.  I am not sure where I, a black gay racially progressive anti-poverty, "please redistribute income" and create positive rights in the constitution voter finds such talking points. Please enlighten me....

[ Parent ]
no my argument is he was going to win anyways (0.00 / 0)
so I am going to concentrate on electing people more to my liking, in congress.  He needs to be challenged to be left of center, and will be better with a congress that isn't right of center.

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