Cindy over at Fairly Conservative has been critical of president-elect Barack Obama’s choices to fill his Cabinet and administration one more than one occasion, and Cindy’s not alone in questioning president-elect Obama’s decision to choose experienced individuals who have previously served in a Democratic administration.
As pointed out by Jay Bullock over at folkbum’s rambles and rants, the criticisms leveled against president-elect Obama for his decision to choose folks with experience to serve in his administration are basically a “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose” argument. While president-elect Obama was criticized for choosing folks who had experience in a previous Democratic administration to serve in his administration, as if in doing so he had abandoned his message of change, the same folks who’ve criticized Obama would no doubt be criticizing him just as much (if not more) if he had chosen folks with no Washington experience to serve in his Cabinet and administration. I’ve also made the argument that choosing individuals with Washington experience to serve in his administration doesn’t mean the agenda of change Barack Obama talked about during his presidential campaign can’t be implemented – in fact, I think choosing individuals to serve in his administration who know how Washington works will only make the implementation of Obama’s agenda easier. I think it would have been incredibly naive of president-elect Obama to fill his administration with individuals who weren’t wise to the way Washington works – because Washington is no place for on the job training when it comes to the individuals who would be staffing the Obama administration.
No doubt aware of the criticisms leveled against him for choosing folks with Washington experience to serve in his administration, president-elect Obama addressed the issue today at a press conference in Chicago:
“When it comes to the people that we’ve pulled together — because I know this has been sort of conventional wisdom floating around Washington — that, well, you know, there’s a recycling of people who were in the Clinton administration,” Obama replied, referring specifically to the economic team he introduced on Monday. “And so it would be surprising if I selected a Treasury secretary who had had no connection with the last Democratic administration because that would mean that the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever.”
He added that it would be troubling had he made appointments with no government experience given the severity of the market meltdown.
In terms of breaking from the past, his team of advisers combine experience with fresh thinking, Obama said, adding that the “vision for change comes first and foremost…from me.”
“That’s my job, is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing it,” he said. “I think that when you ultimately look at what this advisory board looks like, you’ll say this is a cross-section of opinion that in some ways reinforces conventional wisdom, in some ways breaks with orthodoxy in all sorts of ways.”
It’s like president-elect Obama read Cindy’s blog!