Obama’s nominee problems
The President’s nominees for his second term are having problems, John Kerry somewhat excepted. (Kerry of course benefitted from moving to the State Department directly from his Senate seat. The Senate’s tradition of “collegiality,” in this case, code for not calling a fool a fool, has not yet achieved room temperature.)
But other Obama nominees are struggling mightily. Why? Because not only are these nominees B and C-teamers who didn’t warrant a look in Obama’s first term, but they also lacked any sort of Presidential halo/top cover that might otherwise make their confirmations less difficult.
The President’s approval rating, while still higher than it might be given the state of the nation, has dropped precipitously recently, reverting to a new normal which is likely to trend steadily downward still. Additionally, many of the Obama nominees are suffering from having to carry the President’s baggage—think about his self-authorized, drone-based, license to kill—including many failed policies from his first term.
Thoughts are now being floated regarding Two Buck Chuck Hagel’s withdraw for the Secretary of Defense position, and for good reason. Not only does the man appear to have no ideas of his own, he doesn’t appear to have any ideas (or ideals), period. And his failure to reveal the sources of funding for his speaking and advisory engagements, claiming he is barred from doing so, is both shameful and absurd. Anyone remember most transparent Administration ever?
The CIA nominee, John Brennan, will likely be confirmed, but the Agency will have a much shorter leash than it did under David Petraeus, a man the Congress held in higher regard for his professional performance, if not for his personal indiscretions. Brennan is double-cursed, first as the President’s self-certified drone-master, but also because he holds a Bush-era ‘enhanced interrogation’ history. Now we find out that before Brennan was against enhanced interrogations, in the manner of John Kerry, he was for them, a classic case of where I stand depends on where I sit. In Brennan’s case, he now sits before the Congress providing testimony and his attempt at explaining away his change in thinking seems… weak… implausible… dissembling.
The next human piñata will be Jack Lew, another poser who lacks the professional chops his position warrants, but makes up for it by being deeply partisan, and a Wall Street robber baron (and an inept one at that). It is a difficult trick indeed to make Timothy Geithner look good.
One possible exception for the President may be with the new Attorney General. Unless the President nominates Bob Menendez or Jesse Jackson, Jr., improvement in the Justice Department is almost certain.
Where does this leave Mr. Obama? On one hand, you can say the President has a difficult job; on the other hand, you can say he’s done poorly at it. Even though his first term was marked by myriad domestic and foreign policy disappointments (class warfare, partisanship, shallowness, thoughtlessness, and bumbling when off teleprompter) and outright failures (unemployment, the deficit, the debt, the Russian Reset, the pivot to Asia, the Arab Spring, etc.), his second term is likely to worsen, partly an accumulation of the failures of his first term, partly a result of a term two set of advisors and confidents who are even less capable and thoughtful than their predecessors.
How bad is it? It’s so bad not even 60 Minutes and Steve Kroft will be able to throw all these failures down the memory hole.
But as for the root-cause analysis, it seems the President’s problems with his second term nominees are a reflection of the man himself. This, sadly, is the predictable result of having an unvetted, untested, inexperienced, record-free President who holds the wrong ideas on almost every debatable position. May God help us.