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Obama's Cabinet: Careful or Careless?

By Ben Pershing
President Bush has often bragged of his disregard for polls and his "thick skin against criticism." If he hasn't already, Barack Obama will learn soon how hard it is to find a middle ground between being too sensitive to the political winds, and not sensitive enough. Too cautious, and not cautious enough.

That balancing act is on display this morning, as Obama faces questions on whether he was careless in selecting Bill Richardson for commerce secretary and whether he was -- depending on how you look at it -- either too careful or not careful enough in choosing Leon Panetta for CIA Director.

On Richardson, Obama's camp and that of the New Mexico governor are now engaged in a blame game over whether Richardson failed to disclose everything or Obama's vetters just failed to play close enough attention. Either way, it's not a good sign that Robert Gibbs was reduced to defending "the totality of our Cabinet picks" rather than the specific pick at issue.

As a window into Obama's thought process, Panetta is a more complicated choice. On one hand, the incoming president picked Panetta because he clearly bent over backwards not to pick anyone connected to or supportive of the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies. That stance essentially eliminated nearly every experienced candidate for the CIA job, including Obama intelligence adviser John Brennan. Was that an example of Obama taking a firm ideological stand, regardless of the practical consequences, or was he too sensitive to the criticisms of the liberal blogosphere?

Continue reading at Political Browser»

By Ben Pershing  |  January 6, 2009; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Dianne Feinstein reminds me of who my class elected (year after year)student body secretary. She waits to see how the wind blows and then chimes in without an original thought of her own. I see now where she is trying to back down on her opposition to the Panetta appointment. So typical. I think that she's finally been exposed by Maddow (MSNBC). I hope we can finally get rid of her in Cal. Even a moderate Repub. (though I hate to say it) would be better. Feinstein simply doesn't want to get any on her.

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | January 8, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

"torture policy" under President Bush was NO DIFFERENT from under Bill Clinton; it's just the BushDefamationLeague(Congress under the Sulking Dems) decided to "out" it - as though it was a big shock to them - in order to try to discredit Pres Bush. Unfortunately for them, they had already read all of the briefs on the policy - and APPROVED them. Fortunately for them, Americans who soak up Big Media for news were too clueless to catch them on that , and call them out for their BigFraud.
Obama will carry on - just like Bush - because intell is the only way we have to prevent another 9/11 and -- now that Jamie Gorelick's criminal legislation forcing intell to be walled off has been corrected -- and Pres Bush has PROVED that he knows how to prevent another 9/11, Obambi won't have the courage to change a thing!

Posted by: gaelgirl | January 7, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Except for the current grand jury investigation and the unknown outcome, Governor Richardson by his vast and varied experiences is otherwise eminently qualified to hold a number of national positions. He is also better suited for State than the current nominee. This writer agrees with Senator Feinstein on the credentials that the next CIA Director should have. He does not believe that Mr. Leon Panetta’s background supports his nomination for the CIA-a most important national position!

Gaylord Sprauve

Posted by: Gsprauve1 | January 6, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: cbirkett | January 6, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

LOL! :-D

Oh, Yeah!

Now everyone is remembering the Clinton Administration! :-/

F-O-U-R L-O-N-G Y-E-A-R-S :-(

Posted by: SAINT---The | January 6, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Another, really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1 | January 6, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Obama's Cabinet: Careful or Careless?" Mmmmm, let's see, oh I know! It's CLUELESS!

Posted by: vgailitis | January 6, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

There is a lot more to the Bill Richardson investigation than meets the eye. He should not have been selected as Commerce Secretary as nothing appears to have changed between the time of the announcement of his selection and the time he withdrew. Leon Panetta is a fine man but he has no qualifications or experience that make him a suitable pick for the CIA. Imagine Obama appointing Panetta as Surgeon General of the United States. The CIA in these times is a critical organization to our survival.
The Burris case is also a screw up. The Democrats in Ill. brought it on themselves. Burris is entitled to be seated and will eventually.

Posted by: mharwick | January 6, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm in the Kingdom after getting the last plane out from Detroit. What appears in the USA to be Mr Obama's cabinet confusion, here is seen as an opportunity for him to bring a distinguished believer into that body. The current favourite is F Fawzi Mafooz, Ph D, president of the Chicago/Cook County Outdoor Merchants Association. (We're not sure but don't think Mr Panetta is a believer.)

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | January 6, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

At this point Richardson has done nothing wrong and there does not seem to be a smoking gun like there is with Blagojevich. The Obama team made a guess that the Richardson affair would be gone with the present grand jury. That is not the case with a new grand jury and now there is a cloud that did not exist when he was appointed last month. If only Bush had behaved as responsibly and corrected his Iraq policy when it became apparent to most that it was failing, we would have been where we are now a couple of years ago.

Republicans who criticize Obama on this one are those who are so incompetent themselves that they do not recognize competence when they see it.

Posted by: Gator-ron | January 6, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing ideological about Obama picking Panetta for CIA. He wanted a trusted and competent administrator for the job, who would insist that certain specific techniques are not used in intelligence gathering, (.ie. NO torture allowed.) That's neither Left Wing or Right Wing, ask John McCain. It's a behavior based decision based on what gets results, in addition to what brings respect to America, not some abstract set of ideas. The old politicians and press have other agendas here in criticizing Obama. Fienstein in particular is still PO'd that her gal Hillary lost, and she is not in line for a high level cabinet decision. It is well known that she is done in the Senate and wanted an administration position, but is simply not competent to hold one. She has been waiting to slam Obama, and this is her chance.

Posted by: vitaletti101 | January 6, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"hey back to the ones who got us to 9-11 same same lame clinton policy if we get bombed bury our head in the sand and hope. they go away.
Posted by: getsix1 | January 6, 2009 10:14 AM "
So are you blaming Clinton because the 9/11 attacks were partially planned while he was in office? Because terror attacks are being planned every day so if we are attacked again will it be the current administration's fault?

Counterterrorism funding actually grew under the Clinton administration. There were 42 explicit warnings by intelligence officials to the current administration, it wasn't a failure of intelligence because of lack of funding, it was a failure of human intelligence to heed warnings.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 6, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

hey back to the ones who got us to 9-11 same same lame clinton policy if we get bombed bury our head in the sand and hope. they go away.

Posted by: getsix1 | January 6, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Day two, on OAG Child Support Div. Watch:

I receive another round of automated emails and no firm hearing process!

Pres. Obama wouldn't have this. Thank goodness for his new appointees to DOJ, Ogden, Kagan, and Holder

I'm still waiting ...
Katrina Taylor Hankins

Posted by: kthankins | January 6, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Looks like a choice between experience and ethics. Apparently you can't have both. I can't think of any government organization where this is more true than the C.I.A.

Gullible Reaganite critics of "liberal blogosphere" try to scare us into believing that an ethical approach to foreign affairs would get us all killed by terrorists. Maybe so, but the brave only die once.

Posted by: rooster54 | January 6, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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