FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
UK Telegraph: “Barack Obama’s aides believe he has made a mistake in hiring Hillary Clinton “
Welcome to the Fishbowl, kids.
And thanks for letting us know that there are those among you who are willing to badmouth your boss for the papers:
But a little after lunch on Wednesday two Obama aides went to a local coffee shop to talk. Both were veterans of the campaign, hailed as the best organised and most disciplined in US history, which has made their boss the first black president.
Both had come to believe, in the crucible of the campaign, that Mr Obama’s judgment was superior to their own. But when they met on Wednesday they agreed on one thing: “He’s making a mistake.” As one of the participants told a friend later that night: “She’ll do a good job but she’ll do it for herself, not for Barack. I can’t bear the drama again.”
She, of course, is Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, figurehead of Democratic women, presidential candidate with 18 million votes and now would-be Secretary of State.
Glad to see that they’re fitting in nicely. Somebody will call. Allahpundit is thinking about all of this in terms of the endless drama that will be our collective entertainment for the next two to four years, and it is admittedly going to be very entertaining to watch. But there’s something else that I want to bring up: this is going to be more than drama. It’s pretty much going to be standard operating procedure, and that’s mostly due to the way that the upcoming administration is telegraphing its future inherent conflicts.
We’re playing a fun game behind the scenes here at RedState: it’s called Guess the Final Number of Power Blocs in the Obama Administration. We’re all in agreement that there’s going to be a bunch of them, but the actual number varies from person to person. Currently, I’m scoring four (not counting the President’s own bloc):
First, we have Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel – and no, we can’t count that one as Obama’s. The CoS does not only the things that you not only don’t want associated with you; he also does the things that you don’t want to actually know about. Unhallowed Hand, and all that. So Emanuel will be out there doing all the things that he thinks that Obama would want him to do, if only Emanuel had had the opportunity to ask first. None of that’s a criticism, by the way: as I said, that’s what a CoS does.
Second, we have (presumed) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has apparently been loading up the WH staff with her own people. Hard to say exactly how many – most of the staffers with any kind of experience got it during her husband’s administration – but there are a lot of them, and very few of them are going to want to be openly hostile. I should also note that any individual who made it a point to openly insult Senator Clinton in the recent election is probably going to have a serious problem getting anything out of the Obama administration: her feuds are now his. Lobbyists, activist groups, and consulting companies, please note.
Third, we have Secretary of Health & Human Services Tom Daschle. He’s going to be the angry and motivated one. Thanks to the VRWC, he lost his job in 2004 -
Hi, Tom! Did you enjoy your vacation? Was it fun to watch Reid mess up a pefectly good working majority while you were sidelined? The working majority that should have been yours?
- and now he’s back with a Cabinet job that actually means something (well, at least to Democrats), and a cause: universal health care. Expect the Democrats in Congress to route their requests to the administration through him; he’s really the natural choice for that, and they have to coordinate with him anyway.
And fourth and last, we have… Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. This is the odd one, and normally I wouldn’t really count him. Except that he does have the advantage of not starting from scratch, and if rumors are true then John Brennan will be over at CIA, and Gen. James Jones will be the NSA, and as the latter is reportedly also on good terms with SecState Clinton – do you see where this is going? Those four are more or less all on the same page with their views on national security issues, which are not shared by the progressives who want to see Gitmo immediately closed, FISA ended, the troops yanked out of the Middle East posthaste, Israel humbled, and Bush administration officials sent to the Hague for war crime trials. In other words, it’s rare to have SecDef and SecState agree on anything, but they’re likely to at least have the same enemies this go-round.
And that’s just the ones that we can see right now. We have no idea how Commerce and Treasury are really going to play out, for example. Or what Homeland Security under Napolitano is going to look like. Or any of a bunch of other posts. What we are getting an idea of, though, is of Obama’s planned governing style… which is apparently nonchalant about the idea of letting a bunch of independent-minded, politically-adept prima donnas (I use the term without heat) define his domestic and foreign policies for him. His supporters will undoubtedly claim that this is yet another example of Obama’s barely-concealed godhood, before they go back to yelling about how he’s caving to us awful neoconservatives, but that’s not an explanation. It’s just a mantra. Of the four people I mentioned above, the only one that Obama can really control short of firing is Emanuel – and he’s also about the only one that Obama can really do without. I suspect that the two factors are not unrelated.
To sum up, we’re not seeing a Team of Rivals: we’re seeing Rival Teams. What’s more, they’re Rival Teams that came to their earlier positions of power independently of the President. How he plans to deal with that is still up in the air. In fact, judging from his campaign strategy he might not intend to deal with it at all…
PS: Seriously, Obama staffers: somebody will call. And when they reach out, think about this for a moment; you do want to stay in DC for more than four – or even eight – years, right?
Well, then don’t burn your bridges.