“Obama orphans” followup: policy is people
An Obama campaign foreign policy advisor who weighed in for this piece responded to it (and the transition official’s response in the update) with these thoughts, provided on background. I’ve edited it down: What the Obama transition official told you is actually the first expression since November 7 that the transition team will consider, at some ...
An Obama campaign foreign policy advisor who weighed in for this piece responded to it (and the transition official's response in the update) with these thoughts, provided on background. I've edited it down:
An Obama campaign foreign policy advisor who weighed in for this piece responded to it (and the transition official’s response in the update) with these thoughts, provided on background. I’ve edited it down:
What the Obama transition official told you is actually the first expression since November 7 that the transition team will consider, at some future time, the great majority of Obama foreign policy experts for positions in the administration…..
– Having said that, the transition official fails to mention that the key decision-maker for more junior positions is the person to whom she or he reports. Thus, if the undersecretary is a close associate of Secretary Clinton, for example, the undersecretary will push almost always for assistant secretaries and deputy assistant secretaries, etc. in Secretary Clinton’s network. As your article pointed out, there is no one in the Obama operation whose responsibility is to advocate Obama foreign policy experts for positions, and by so doing, help deflect this pressure.
– The follow-on piece from TNR (and here) is instructive because it emphasizes that approximately 300 Obama foreign policy advisers — not just a few people — have been hurt by the transition team’s secretiveness and lack of communication. Among them are some of the leading foreign policy experts in the United States. (Back in July, I recall, the McCain campaign mocked then-Senator Obama for having such an extensive foreign policy team).
– Some say that Obama would like to appoint "the best and the brightest" and for that reason, a person’s early and hard work for the campaign is not a major factor in job-related decisions. How is it possible, I would ask, for the transition team to select the best and the brightest, if many excellent people who supported Obama are not even able to compete for positions? By keeping the Obama advisers in the dark about the process — the very people who helped Obama obtain the nomination and win the election — the transition team is actually undercutting and weakening its ability to hire "the best and the brightest."
– In fact, the extreme secrecy of the process and the stated rationale of seeking the "best and the brightest" is designed to conceal what is actually happening in the foreign policy transition — a determined and coordinated effort by Hillary Clinton and her team to maximize their power and position in the administration, thereby preventing Obama’s people from running the foreign policy side of the government. (Some would call this a power-grab). John Podesta, who heads the transition team, served as chief of staff for President Clinton and strongly backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries, is facilitating this effort.
– The distaste of President-Elect Obama and his political operation for Chicago-style machine politics (which rewards loyalty above all) has allowed them to be outmaneuvered by the most powerful and savvy political machine in recent history – the Clintonistas – who know that putting in place an organization of loyal supporters is crucial to effective governance.
– As one of your sources implied, this situation demonstrates the Obama inner-circle know how to run a political campaign but don’t know how to govern.
– There’s an old saying in Washington: policy is people. This means that to implement the foreign policies Obama championed in the campaign, people loyal to Obama who developed and supported those policies must obtain positions. If a different group obtains the key policymaking positions, then the policies Obama enunciated will fall by the wayside. Incidentally, this result would thwart the democratic process. Americans who supported Obama because they believed in his foreign policy views will soon discover that the reality is "bait and switch." This is not a good way to demonstrate the Obama administration’s foreign policy bona fides to the American public. …
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