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Fix Pick: Brooks on the Transition


New York Times columnist David Brooks is reassured by the people with whom President-elect Obama has chosen to surround himself. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

Amid the chaos of Cabinet picks and the whirl of White House staff announcements over the past week, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture.

That big picture, simply put, is: What do the people President-elect Barack Obama appears to have chosen for his top Cabinet slots and his senior staff jobs say about what kind of chief executive he might be?

As usual, columnist David Brooks -- one of the Fix's favorite reads for his insightful takes on political life and discourse -- takes a step back from the melee and offers a terrific 10,000-foot assessment.

Brooks starts his column by noting the common educational pedigree of Obama and his inner circle (some combination of Yale, Harvard, M.I.T., and Oxford) and jokingly notes: "If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we're screwed."

But, this column is not simply a screed against highly educated elites. Far from it.

Brooks writes:

"As much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition."

The Fix (Georgetown undergrad, School of Hard Knocks graduate degree) may not understand every word in the above sentence -- "Enarchs"?, come on! -- but Brooks's overall argument is a compelling one.

While reporters (yours truly included) are largely focused on the micro picture of the newly-leaky Obama Administration, Brooks makes the macro case that the people Obama is picking reveal in the president-elect an admirable strength in judgment and character.

"The team he has announced so far is more impressive than any other in recent memory," writes Brooks at one point; at another, he states: "The events of the past two weeks should be reassuring to anybody who feared that Obama would veer to the left or would suffer self-inflicted wounds because of his inexperience."

Because of Obama's short résumé in national office, this transition period is more crucial for him than it has been for any chief executive in recent memory. First impressions are lasting ones -- just ask former President Bill Clinton who spent the first four years of his term trying to get out from under mistakes he made in the first six months in office.

Obama, according to Brooks, is off on the right foot. But remember that picking a Cabinet nominee in winter 2008 is not the same thing as seeing them confirmed in early months of 2009. Much can -- and likely will -- change in the political landscape between now and then.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 22, 2008; 10:02 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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Comments

WAKE UP 37thandOStreetRules


WAKE UP 37thandOStreetRules


WAKE UP 37thandOStreetRules


WAKE UP 37thandOStreetRules

The election is over. Stop your crying bi*ching!

Posted by: TheDiplomat | November 26, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

--" The problem? Most of these folks are highly regarded because they have expensive degrees.

Posted by: rusty3 | November 22, 2008 7:31 PM "--

'Mr Rusty, you've been in an accident, you're bleeding money, and we need someone to stitch your body back up and allow it to heal.

We have two people available: a man and woman. The first is a Southern Baptist, father of two children, no extra-marital affairs, strong views on anti-abortion. The other one started with a medical degree from one of those expensive colleges, and since that time has worked in the medical field, earning herself the respect and admiration from her peers. Her religious beliefs are unknown.

We await your decision.'

Posted by: DonJasper | November 24, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Giventhis columnest has been fawning over obama for over 9 months.. why don't you change the name of your column to "the obama love light.

that way, when you pick another columnist as your favorate, we'll know with out having to check the the quoted columnist with have the same fawning adoration of obama

You are the ones you've been waiting for.

the rest of us prefer facts and reality

Posted by: newagent99 | November 24, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse


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To the poster at 7:38 and 7:39


You fail to take into account how many democrats voted FOR the Iraq war.


AND this "lie" that you keep on harping on.

Bill Clinton is the one who is one tape saying that "Saddam had weapons of mass destruction."


Bush never said that.

All the western intelligence agencies believed that Saddam had CHEMICAL WEAPONS WHICH ARE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

Somehow, you TWIST that into a personal lie on the part of President Bush.


AND you go around for years saying Bush lied, Bush lied.


Well did Bill Clinton also lie? Why don't you focus in on Bill Clinton?

Why don't you focus in on all the democrats in Congress who voted for the war???


YOU make it appear as though the democrats in Congress have no personal responsiblity - that they were innocent victims of the Bush administration.


Well the democrats in Congress ARE ADULTS - THE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN VOTES FOR THE IRAQI WAR.

Stop blaming Bush WHEN BOTH PARTIES RUSHED INTO THE IRAQI WAR.

NOW I return to my original point: those who are asking for partisan unity now are the same people who REFUSED to give us partisan unity during the DARKEST DAYS when we were at war.

What a sick bunch of people.

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 24, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

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Obama is a do-nothing - everyone in the country is telling him to get up and act now - we do not need another press conference from him in which all his people look scared. (see picture above in Fix posting)


There is no change.


There is no change. What is different? The voters voted for something DIFFERENT FROM BUSH, DIFFERENT FROM CLINTON.


HOW HARD IS THAT?


The Clinton people got us into this mess by allowing the internet bubble to emerge - which led to the mortgage bubble - no one has stopped the SNOWBALL OF THE CLINTON ECONOMIC DISASTER.

Clinton is the one who repealed the Glass-Steagall Act - Clinton and the DNC took vast amounts of money from Wall Street to make this happen


Clinton is the one who DEREGULATED WALL STREET.


CLINTON IS THE ONE WHO TOOK VAST AMOUNTS OF MONEY FROM CHINA AND INDONESIA -


Foreign Money?? Sound familar? Foreign money went into Obama's campaign.


We have serious serious problems in this country - the democratic party has shown that it can be bought and paid for with foreign money


WAKE UP AMERICA


WAKE UP AMERICA


WAKE UP AMERICA


WAKE UP AMERICA


WAKE UP AMERICA.


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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 24, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

You know, I seem to remember the Bush cabinet being pretty well regarded, especially in terms of foreign policy. Cheney and Rumsfeld were both former SecDefs, Powell was a National Security Advisor as well as Chairman of JCoS. Condoleeza Rice was an egghead from Stanford with great expertise on Russia. The rest of the Cabinet wasn't all that star studded, but the Foreign guys were considered pretty hard hitters.

I think the difference is that Obama will foster an environment where dissent is demanded. Bush lacked the intellectual curiosity and confidence for that.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 24, 2008 5:07 AM | Report abuse

Brooks' column was a fascinating read and I agree with him.

I do want to remind everyone that most of us thought that Powell and Rummy would provide an effective team of wiser old hands for GWB to rely upon.

It does not always work out as we would desire, but I wish BHO and our nation the best of good luck.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 23, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

THE OBAMA ECONOMIC TEAM IMMEDIATELY MUST CONFRONT THE REAL POSSIBILITY THAT SOME OF THE NATION'S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS WERE SELF-GENERATED... BY PROGRAMS AND POLICIES THAT HARM INNOCENT AMERICANS

Targeting of U.S. Citizens by Gov't Agencies: Root Cause of Wall Street Financial Crisis


http://www.nowpublic.com/world/targeting-u-s-citizens-govt-agencies-root-cause-wall-street-financial-crisis


Posted by: scrivener50 | November 23, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

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What I'd like to see is a REAL POST-PARTISAN AND REAL POST-RACIAL CABINET -

FORGET ERIC HOLDER - GET THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB.


FORGET HILLARY - VIRTUALLY ANYONE IS BETTER THAN HER.

LET'S SEE A HALF DEMOCRATIC HALF REPUBLICAN CABINET -

LET'S SEE NO DIVERSITY MOTIVATED APPOINTMENTS - THAT IS TRULY POST-RACIAL.

LET'S SEE IT OBAMA.

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

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The reality is that economy is the number one issue - AND what do we have here? An affirmative action guy with NO ECONOMIC OR BUSINESS EXPERIENCE EXCEPT FOR BUYING COCAINE.


So what does he do?


He takes ONE BOOK by Doris Kearns Goodwin and that is guiding this whole process. A little silly, however apparently true.


Obama offered little in terms of an economic program during the campaign - mainly because the campaign believed that the poll numbers were going his way and Obama did not have to offer up specifics.

HOWEVER NOW IS DIFFERENT. The country is in serious shape and there IS NO ECONOMIC DIRECTION COMING FROM OBAMA IN THE WEEKS SINCE THE ELECTION.


THERE IS A COMPLETE LACK OF LEADERSHIP.


WALL STREET IS TELLING US SOMETHING -


WALL STREET TANKED IN PART BECAUSE THEY PROJECTED OBAMA WINNING AND THEY PROJECTED A HORRIBLE ECONOMIC POLICY FROM HIM.


THE COMPLETE LACK OF LEADERSHIP IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS IS ASTONISHING. IT REALLY IS.

WHAT IS OBAMA GOING TO DO NEXT? READ ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR???

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

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Why is it that those who refused to unite behind Bush while we were at war are the same people DEMANDING PARTISAN UNITY NOW???


Appears a little hypocritcal to me.

They want something that they refused to give before, all they did was snipe at the President for years and years.

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

broadwayjoe


When we get the adequate information from Obama, we will stop asking for it.

yea.

Obama actually has a guilty look to him in the past few weeks - like he has something to tell us that he doesn't want to come clean about.


OH you call a jobs program an economic policy - sorry but

Did you hear what they said CREATE OR SAVE two million jobs. - Who is going to determine which jobs Obama "saved" ???

The "grand pronouncement" so couched in phraseology - give us a break.

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Broadwayjoe


If no one cares about the birth certificate, why has Obama been so silent on this topic - there have been no details offered, no evidence, no records, no medical information, no name of any hospital.


JOE BIDEN Are you listening??

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

broadwayjoe


As I have stated numerous times, the certificate offered on that site DOES NOT PROVE THAT OBAMA WAS BORN IN THE US - it is the same certificate which the State of Hawaii issues to babies born outside the US.


So are you stupid or something???


Why is it so hard for you to understand that the American people want a little more proof - like hospital records or the name of a doctor.


Seriously.


I do not mean to get personally insulting however you have to be a joker - do not attack other posters when a response to your comment has been posted many times before.


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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to seeing the Fix take on Joe Lieberman's appearance on Meet The Press today.

If you would like to see the video, and want to get the essence of what was said, or wasn't said, go to:

http://scootmandubious.blogspot.com/2008/11/joe-lieberman-hardly-repentant-on-meet.html

Posted by: scootmandubious | November 23, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Although I typed it, I'm not sure what "politices" are - maybe poultices for politicians with hurt feelings?

In any case, I meant "policies" - "privately issued health care policies".

Posted by: officermancuso | November 23, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

FDR didn't enter office as an ideologue, he was a "try anything, but let's use the government to work our way out of this catastrophe" kind of guy. Until WWII, trial and error kept pushing him leftward - until by 1940 he was far to the left of any president or presidential candidate since his time.

It remains to be seen how trial and error will push Obama. It would be a nice prank on DailyKos and the know-nothing netroots if an initial period of liberal orthodoxy failed and pushed Obama to the right - and it would not be hard at all for Obama to get to the right of the George W. Bush/Henry Paulson of November 2008.

All citizens willing to be covered enjoying privately issued health care politices, and no welfare for reckless financiers would, in a sense, be to Bush's right.

I see Obama as an extraordinarily bright, politically literate, intellectually curious pragmatist.

It is going to be very interesting to see how he grows in office.

One thing I can guarantee you - he will grow, not shrink. He's too smart and too non-ideological to be defeated by facts.

Posted by: officermancuso | November 23, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

37thandO, in answer to your previous 156 anti-O posts on the idiotic subject of O's birth certificate, numerous posters have directed to you a site with a PDF of his birth certificate. Clearly you have no intention of accessing it. Look, no one cares about this birth certificate junk except fools and bigots. Move on. We get that you are anti-O; can't you state that fact once and for all time, and leave it at that? Doesn't Hannity, Rush, or Hal Turner have a blog just waiting for your insightful comments????

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 23, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Plea from O-Nation: Before inauguration, will somebody get 44 a real history book on Abe Lincoln written by a real historian.

If I hear one more reference to "Team of Rivals" as a reason to appoint O's enemies to the cabinet, I'll pop. D. K. Goodwin merely PLAYS an historian on TV, and may have stayed at a Holiday Inn once or twice. At least have somebody tear out the relevant pages on Abe from the World Book Encyclopedia and PDF them to O. No president in the history of the planet has appointed to his cabinet persons publicly dedicated to his personal destruction, despite what DKG is peddling.

Answer to one poster's earlier question, Is "37andO" a troll or an idiot?

Answer: Both.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 23, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

As to whether Obama's appointees are visionaries or administrators, we only need one visionary at the top. Then we need appropriate realistic feedback and capable flunkies. I think the super-partisons are terrified that Obama will turn out to be as competent as he appears. They are rev'ing up the criticism w/o anything really to critize yet. The president elect is doing exactly what he should be. Floating names, appointing people, working behind the scenes.

Personally I think the GOP is stuck or heading backwords - their 'conservative' stances are sounding more horse-and-buggish by the month. At some point, they will follow the PA dutch and decide that they really want to just live in their own old fashioned world, that technology and politics don't serve their purposes. I see westerners and northerners giving up on the anti-evolution, anti-research, anti-everything southern wing. I wonder when they will realize they need a new party. I'm going to start thinking of names for it.

Posted by: Rin-tin-tin1 | November 23, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Does the new admin.'s cabinet really
matter? I think that this will be more of what we are now accustomed to..a four year long re-election campaign..with a two year race to gain more control of congress.

D-Axel is the scariest person of all..I wished he would have been left on the curb somewhere..I hate this media/political marriage..it goes against my grain (but, I'm just a nobody anyway). I really liked him during the primary campaign..but, he is just too focused on politics..I think politics-based leadership is ineffective..and W is a prime example!

Posted by: newbeeboy | November 23, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

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The reality is that economy is the number one issue - AND what do we have here? An affirmative action guy with NO ECONOMIC OR BUSINESS EXPERIENCE EXCEPT FOR BUYING COCAINE.


So what does he do?


He takes ONE BOOK by Doris Kearns Goodwin and that is guiding this whole process. A little silly, however apparently true.

Obama offered little in terms of an economic program during the campaign - mainly because the campaign believed that the poll numbers were going his way and Obama did not have to offer up specifics.


HOWEVER NOW IS DIFFERENT. The country is in serious shape and there IS NO ECONOMIC DIRECTION COMING FROM OBAMA IN THE WEEKS SINCE THE ELECTION.


THERE IS A COMPLETE LACK OF LEADERSHIP.

WALL STREET IS TELLING US SOMETHING -

WALL STREET TANKED IN PART BECAUSE THEY PROJECTED OBAMA WINNING AND THEY PROJECTED A HORRIBLE ECONOMIC POLICY FROM HIM.

THE COMPLETE LACK OF LEADERSHIP IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS IS ASTONISHING. IT REALLY IS.


WHAT IS OBAMA GOING TO DO NEXT? READ ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR???


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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

ENOUGH ALREADY!
"Just for the sake of argument, suppose Obama was indeed not born in the United States, and thus not technically (legally) entitled to run for the presidency. Do these people believe that even in that remote case, the fait accompli of the election cannot be negated by facts presented before the SCOTUS?"

Obama's mother was an American, and regardless of where he was born, he is thus an American. Just as John McCain is an American even though he was born in the Canal Zone.

For all of those who keep up this nonsense, please post a copy of the original document your mother completed in the hospital to prove that you were born an American. We cannot accept the certified copy from the State for proof that you are an American. Only this original document is proof. I mean afterall, the US State Department may be incorrect in accepting a certified copy of your birth certificate as proof of your citizenship. (Since Obama has a US passport, he has already passed this test.)

PS. Clarence Thomas is a joke. He was a joke when he was appointed, and he is a joke now. We'll just have to live with that mistake.

Posted by: vmi98mom | November 23, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse


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It is really amazing how many paid Obama campaign staffers were on this blog - the tempo has gone down dramatically - isn't it a wonder what a flood of foreign money could do for a blog???


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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Hillary I think will want a large ostrich feather in her cap as Secy of State. She knows her legacy will not be as POTUS (maybe her daughter), so I believe she will try to create Palestine and end the conflict. She does not need the Jewish vote and already has the confidence of Israel. She also can ask Putin to pull out of Georgia and replace his troops with Ukranians in exchange to moving the missile defense to Israel, Iran's real target. I look to some appointments from the other side. Bair, Gates, Baker, Lugar, Hagel, Goss and Whitmann comes to mind.

Posted by: jameschirico | November 23, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse


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bokonon13

All I can say is stick to the issues and stop harrassing other posters.


The transition is a mess.


The transition is without direction. What the country needs right now is to hear the Obama has an economic plan.


Obama has no economic plan.


Obama has been basically MIA on the economy since the election - the country is in bad shape - AND WHAT DOES OBAMA GIVE US? RAHM AND HILLARY. IS THAT A JOKE OR WHAT???

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 2:09 AM | Report abuse

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We still need to see birth records for Obama - like medical records showing which hospital he was born in.


Seriously folks.


The situation is this: if there was no problem with the paperwork, we would have seen the papers already.


The certificate on the internet does not prove that Obama was born in Hawaii: it is the same certificate issued to babies born outside of the United States.


So let's just see the medical records from a hospital. The name of a doctor. Something. Why is this so difficult???

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 23, 2008 2:05 AM | Report abuse

As one who went to ENA for an immersion program, let me say that DeGaulle started the school after the scandals of Vichy. He wanted to create a new government of skilled leaders who possessed ethics and integrity. It was change that DeGaulle believed would restore the honor of France.

If Obama has "Enarchs" we will be the better for it.

Posted by: hakafos44 | November 23, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

In 2000, Bush picked some of the brightest and accomplished Cabinet members like Rumsfeld, Cheney (who actually was against replacing Saddam in 1st Gulf War because he didn't like the inevitable nation-building consequences) and other brainy appointments. Every pundit said Bush was surrounded by some very expericenced politicians and he could do no wrong. Look where we are now. So my only point here is no matter how 'bright' those Cabinet picks might be, we still have to wait for their actual 'works'.

Posted by: rationalthinker | November 23, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight.

On the one hand, dcraven925 is saying that Obama was born in Hawaii; which he claims is "established beyond any reasonable doubt." On the other hand, he is also saying that if the Supreme Court were to determine that that is no so, and invalidate the election, "Blood will run in the streets. And it will mean the end of the Republic.". I find the two assertions together to be inexplicable.

bc54321 says that a Supreme Court "stay" of the election is "like tossing a hand grenade at two hundred and thirty years of electoral tradition. In other words: yes, it would mean the end of the United States as we've always known it." And that would become a "disgrace to our own history".

Really?

Just for the sake of argument, suppose Obama was indeed not born in the United States, and thus not technically (legally) entitled to run for the presidency. Do these people believe that even in that remote case, the fait accompli of the election cannot be negated by facts presented before the SCOTUS?

Posted by: pKrishna43 | November 22, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, Chris, this is lazy.

You think we couldn't read Brooks if we wanted to? And who wants to, anyway? Your own insight, limited though it may be, is what we come here for when we bother to. Not Bobo's.

Posted by: TeddySanFran | November 22, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Biden - U of DE & Syracuse Law

Dacshle - SD State

Gibbs - NC State

Rahm - Sarah Lawrence & Northwestern

Axelrod - U of Chicago

Plouffe - U of DE (did not graduate)

Ross - UCLA

Richardson - Tufts

Hm-m-m-m-m

Posted by: lensch | November 22, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

In my effort to downgrade Bush's legacy while enumerating his possible accomplishments that could be used against my argument, I forgot what was perhaps his finest moment - his stand for immigration reform, against the bigots in his own party.

Geez, I'm starting to sound Bushian. It's accidental, I assure you.

Posted by: officermancuso | November 22, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

toritto wrote, "We should start a pool on who Bush will pardon before inauguration day!"

Himself.

Followed closely by some of the folks to whom he awarded those Presidential Medals of Freedom - Bremer, Tenet. And those who did "good jobs" (Brownie?).

Historians can find redeeming moments in Richard Nixon. Aside from Viet Nam and Pinochet, parts at least of his foreign policy were brilliant, going to China, playing off China against the USSR and lowering the temperature on the nuclear standoff between USA and USSR. Created the Environmental Protection Agency (perhaps reluctantly, a la Bill Clinton doing welfare reform).

I wonder if they'll be able to find anything redeeming about the 8 year administration of the 43'rd president of the USA.

Maybe "No Child Left Behind" (but once its faults became clear, it was never developed beyond the original concept). Maybe the Medicare prescription program, though it was typically mismanaged at its inception.

Bush is lucky that his Social Security plan for allowing folks to put their payroll tax money into stocks didn't fly - that would look about as pretty on his record as the destruction of New Orleans as we once knew it.

Posted by: officermancuso | November 22, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

We should start a pool on who Bush will pardon before inauguration day!

....Dick Cheney anyone?

:-)

Heehee.........

Posted by: toritto | November 22, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see Brooks showing some levity. It was just a few months back when he was still singing the praises of Bush. He on Larry King's show, and he said that "pulling out of Iraq would cause 10k a month to die." Bob Woodward immediately asked him where he'd gotten that kind of info and that it was ridiculous. Woodward may have been trying to make-up for the book he'd just wrote, fawning over Bush, but it was a good call on his part.

Posted by: shag11 | November 22, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

GeorgiaGirl, the supreme court won't be able to hear that suit because giant Termites ate the Supreme Court building. I know because I live here near DC and I read about the Giant Termite attack on-line. I remember a few years ago the World Weekly News )of blessed memory) told how the termites ate the Eiffel Tower. Now I am reduced to finding out important news from websites like Patriots Brigade and Peoplearedumb.org

Posted by: silverspring25 | November 22, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

dcraven925, davidscott and others - relax, friends, don't let them suck you in to this fiction. The Supreme Court is not and will not consider any such suit. Some of these people on the right are simply delusional.

Posted by: wmw4 | November 22, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

"The problem? Most of these folks are highly regarded because they have expensive degrees. What else have they done besides ride on their degrees and their contacts?..."

Posted by: rusty3 | November 22, 2008 7:31 PM

You are exactly right. This is why the country swings back and forth between being dominated by pragmatists and idealists. The real-world pragmatists, represented by old folks and blue collar and business types, know what is real and what works and have their feet on the ground and etc. The academic idealists are full of fancy theories and extensive references, but usually can't tell a real idea from a fairy tale.

What is interesting about Obama's transition and his picks is that he is reaching out to experienced pragmatists to help shape his Administration. So there is both knowledge and depth, which is a good thing. I.e. his Administration wouldn't be too one-dimensional (which is what happened with Bush's ideological hack-filled Administration).

Another interesting note: experienced pragmatists, like Republicans, are better to have in government generally, when you are trying to reduce its size and introduce efficiency, etc. The theorists and academics are better to have around, though, in a time like this where there is a lot of complicated, unprecedented problem-solving to handle. I think Bush's shallow bench of advisors -- most of the intellectual capital in his administration was all ideological, and represented by the neocons who dominated his first 6 years in office -- meant that the intellectual capacity to even recognize problems was sorely lacking in the Bush-led government. When the old politicians are sitting around clueless and paralyzed in the middle of meltdowns and collapses, it's time to bring in the idea guys.

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 22, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

AsperGirl wrote (excepted):

"I was worried that the frenetic, ideologically manic netroots would keep pressing Obama too far to the left to be effective in dealing with all the disasters that need to be problem-solved."

"One of the biggest problems of Bush's presidency hasn't been the failure of ideology, it has been the broad and unmitigated incompetence, on all levels, of the federal government under Bush's influence."

It's a delight to find gems like those in these comment boxes.

Posted by: officermancuso | November 22, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Obama's transition is impressive. I'm very glad that I switched over to supporting his presidency in the last couple of months before the election. I did so for a variety of reasons, but it seemed to me that he had a deep bench of economic advisors and that he was psychologically prepared for the unknown. His transition team and the picks so far support the impression that Obama is positioning himself for a competent, able presidency during time of multiple crises more than he is focused on short-term political skirmishes.

Obama seems to have the political capital with his base, moreover, to pull off doing the things he needs to do to shape a competent Administration. I was worried that the frenetic, ideologically manic netroots would keep pressing Obama too far to the left to be effective in dealing with all the disasters that need to be problem-solved. John McCain's base forced him to campaign like a divisive, fearful, right-wing fundamentalist in the last couple of months, by withholding their approval for anything else. But so far, the netroots and the left-wing ideologues don't seem as self-destructively tunnel vision as the right-wing Bushie neocons.

But most of all, I feel good about how Obama has reached out to experienced people. One of the biggest problems of Bush's presidency hasn't been the failure of ideology, it has been the broad and unmitigated incompetence, on all levels, of the federal government under Bush's influence. Many unprecedented, disastrous things happened during Bush's 2 terms, but the inability of the federal government to execute any plan or strategy to deal properly with any of the problems, is even more unprecedented. Bush came in an installed a lot of incompetent ideological hacks all throughout his Administration and the federal service, to fill really important, key jobs. It's a big relief to see that Obama is NOT doing that, even though his campaign was very idealistic.

Obama is turning out to be better than I expected. But the hardest part comes AFTER Jan 20.

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 22, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

To 37th If you thought you were getting a rock-ribbed left winger in Barack Obama, you weren't paying much attention all along. As for your claim that the superdelegates are not getting what they wanted -- nonsense. They wanted to win an election and gain seats in Congress, and they did. Maybe YOU are consumed by some hatred of all things Clinton, but that bores the p--s out of most of us Dems, who are quite happy with Obama and his selections, thank you.

Posted by: davidscott1 | November 22, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

It will take a Republican filibuster to block any of these rumored cabinet nominees. I doubt that the Republicans are game for that, so early on, given the quality of the rumored nominees and Obama's outright majority of the popular vote.

As for Robert36's Halberstam reference, would Robert prefer the worst and the most obtuse? (How about Bill Kristol for Secretary of State?) I think we've just spent eight years testing that preference, and the experiment hasn't turned out well, though it's turned up a lot of folks Joe Sixpack might have enjoyed sharing a beer with before his house became worth less than he owes on it after paying for 10 years on a mortgage, before his 401K went south to the tune of 47 per cent in 1 year, and before he finally lost his job and qualified to experience the pleasures of the line where you sign up are re-sign-up for unemployment compensation.

Posted by: officermancuso | November 22, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Team Obama is on its way to being The Best and Brightest 2.0.

Posted by: Robert36 | November 22, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

37th, bud:

YOUR GUY LOST. DECISIVELY.

That means THE MAJORITY OF YOUR FELLOW AMERICANS DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU.

I would even go so far as to say THE MAJORITY OF THOSE WHO READ THIS BLOG THINK YOU ARE EITHER A TROLL OR AN ABSOLUTELY LOONY-TUNES.

If you have something relevant and constructive - sth that does not bemoan the loss of the old guy and the airhead, but rather could be construed as a constructive suggestion for President-elect Obama and his incoming Cabinet - please offer it.

If you don't, and you're just blathering here because you have no other way of killing the clock at GOP HQ, I have an investment opportunity you may be interested in - an old bridge, in one of the New York boroughs, which earns thousands of dollars per day in tolls. I have been authorized to sell it for the city, and I'll let you start the bidding at $50,000.00 (A steal!)

Whaddya say?

Posted by: bokonon13 | November 22, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

The problem? Most of these folks are highly regarded because they have expensive degrees. What else have they done besides ride on their degrees and their contacts? They may be better than the Bush picks, but I'm not sure they are the best people out there, and some of them are Clinton loyalists.

If having an expensive degree is all it took the country wouldn't stuck in stupid wars and floundering in depression.

Posted by: rusty3 | November 22, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

.

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This transition is slowly lumbering toward a complete disaster - there is no change - the same Clinton people not only represent NO CHANGE - but these are the people who got us into this economic mess.


Well, well you say you want to blame Bush?


Who pused to repeal the Glass-Stegall Act which deregulated Wall Street?


Who started this insane asset-inflation which started in the mid-1990s with the internet bubble? Greenspan said himself on Capitol Hill that he wanted Wall Street to have a mortgage securities boom in order to alleviate the effects of the internet bust.


However, that program created an even larger mess - one which embroiled a great number of relatively innocent people.


We have to remember that the Wall Street mess began in the 1990s with the Clintons and DNC taking massive amounts of cash and well at that point anything goes (went?)

All I see is a continuation of the Clinton disaster machine - Rahm Emanuel leading the charge for WHAT ???

This is not what the Superdelegates had in mind when they went for Obama.


It certainly is not what the American public had in mind earlier this month.

AND if you think you are going to get ANY answers from a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin you are out of your mind.


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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 22, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

And, of course, Brooks misses the obvious point: Obama, like Bill and Hillary, is a self-made person. He didn't get into Colombia or Harvard because of family connections.

Measuring someone's ability by what school they went to isn't always what it is cracked up to be. There's ascribed status and achieved status. And let's be frank: would W. have gained entrance to Yale if it weren't for his Bush family connections. He did not - and still does not - have a first class intellect.

Obama, like the Clintons, has achieved a great deal in his life. And he's about to achieve even greater things.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 22, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

"Before Obama gets too comfortable ... "

I doubt that the Supreme Court as a whole is foolish enough to even consider trying to "stay" the results of a landslide election based on such flimsy, ridiculous charges. It would be like tossing a hand grenade at two hundred and thirty years of electoral tradition. In other words: yes, it would mean the end of the United States as we've always known it. And if it came down to that--the judiciary issuing declarations on the legitimacy of our duly elected leaders--I wouldn't be sad to see it go, because at that point, we would have officially become a disgrace to our own history.


Posted by: bc54321 | November 22, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I have never 'believed' in Obama (though I supported him against McCain) and I am not happy with his cabinet picks, or transitional team, etc. The fact that Brooks and the rest of the pundits think it's a good idea makes me more sure we're in trouble... these are the same guys who nodded with gravitas listening to WMD talk.

Obama is picking competent people. That's better than Bush. But we need more than competence. We need vision, we need that 'change'. Hillary Clinton is not a visionary, she's an able politician. Gates is not much of a visionary, he's an able soldier. It's not good enough, because we're in too deep.

Posted by: fake1 | November 22, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

It is relief to finally have qualified individuals with stellar academic backgrounds and work experience being representing the President's vision on the highest level of government.

Clarence Thomas is an example of the complete failure of Presidential judgment. Thomas isn't qualified to wash a car.

Posted by: Simon2 | November 22, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It's fascinating that conservatives, albeit more erudite conservatives, like Brooks and Will, seem to give tentative support to Obama.

They seem to recognize that the conservative movement has lost its way and its "intellectual" underpinnings are no longer think tanks, but blow-hards like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck.

A sign that an ideology is spent comes when the more thinking members of the movement migrate over to other side.

Posted by: AxelDC | November 22, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

r&eaccute;sum&eaccute --- resume?

Posted by: kbtoledo | November 22, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I beat you to you it, Chris:

Comment on: Obama Team Springs Leaks at 11/21/2008 5:11 PM EST
The red-necked, red-state Republican rubes posting here would do well read conservative commentator (ex-Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal) David Brooks' column in today's New York Times.

An extract:

"... as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition.

"The fact that they can already leak one big appointee per day is testimony to an awful lot of expert staff work. Unlike past Democratic administrations, they are not just handing out jobs to the hacks approved by the favored interest groups. They’re thinking holistically — there’s a nice balance of policy wonks, governors and legislators. They’re also thinking strategically. As Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute notes, it was smart to name Tom Daschle both the head of Health and Human Services and the health czar. Splitting those duties up, as Bill Clinton did, leads to all sorts of conflicts.

"Most of all, they are picking Washington insiders. Or to be more precise, they are picking the best of the Washington insiders.

"Obama seems to have dispensed with the romantic and failed notion that you need inexperienced “fresh faces” to change things. After all, it was L.B.J. who passed the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, because he is so young, Obama is not bringing along an insular coterie of lifelong aides who depend upon him for their well-being.

"As a result, the team he has announced so far is more impressive than any other in recent memory."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/opinion/21brooks.html?em

Posted by: pali2500 | November 22, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Since Brooks was often a Bushbot, who cares whether he approves or disapproves. It was the left who elected Obama and the right who drove us into a ditch. Veer away!

Posted by: SarahBB | November 22, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

It is a great miss that the forthcoming presidential inauguration could not be attended by Obama's newly deceased white grand mother who has taught him how to work hard and get good education. As far as education is concerned, both Obama and Clinton couples have similar elite undergraduate and law degrees. Nominally, Yale law ranked as number one while Harvard and Stanford ranked second. On the humble side, Hillary Clinton has shown to be a tough worker as she had extra experience during her student years to earn her tuition, i.e. working in summers doing dish washing in summer resort and clean fish in Alaska.

Posted by: ypcchiu | November 22, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

dnjake:

"Bill Clinton only went to Georgetown for undergraduate school."

Careful on the "only"... this is a DC-based newspaper after all. Moreover, Clinton graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, one of the top-5 undergraduate foreign policy programs in the US.

That being said, good point - a spiffy degree from an Ivy doesn't necessarily translate into competency or effectiveness. However, the melding of his choices' intelligence with their track records is a positive sign...

Posted by: mtp456 | November 22, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Chris I agree, Brooks has good insight. But you can't just repeat what other journalists say. You are a journalist yourself. If the Post wants to pay someone to just link to what other analysts think, then maybe they could hire me?

Posted by: Obama--08 | November 22, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I knew I was doing the right thing when I went off to Colorado and worked a week for Obama. I knew I was helping my country as I sent Obama money and now I feel rewarded. We are getting the smart and pragmatic leaders that this country needs. The last thing we need are ideologs from the left or right.

Posted by: bradcpa | November 22, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

How nice that Mr. Brooks has given President-elect Obama his seal of approval.

I don't think that restoring intellect to the office of the presidency is a surprise to those of us who are Obama supporters.

From the flat-Earth department:

Counter the AFA boycott by supporting the businesses they target, solely for being inclusive during the holidays:

http://scootmandubious.blogspot.com/2008/11/fight-afa-boycott.html

Posted by: scootmandubious | November 22, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Note to Post techies: the annoying html r&eaccute;sum&eaccute; occurs because you've got an extra c in the code for an accented e: résumé. How about fixing it?

Posted by: dktrrobt | November 22, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his wife both have elite educations as did Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton only went to Georgetown for undergraduate school. But both Clinton's graduated from Yale Law School and both Obamas graduated from Harvard Law School. However, I don't think their elite education is the main characteristic of Obama's choices. Obama is looking for the person who he expects to be the most effective choice for a particular job. That means someone who has both the intelligence and the experience required to be effective. It also means someone who has a track record that allows Obama to judge his or her potential. In some cases, he is also looking to start someone in a job that will allow them to gain the experience needed to take over one of the key jobs. This kind of approach is one that the manager of a successful business would be likely to take. It is the right track towards the difficult tasks required of Obama's Administration.

Posted by: dnjake | November 22, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Thomas Clarence was quoted as having said:

"I am the REAL Black brotha y'all want, not this man, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, whose Arab-African father was from Africa and whose mother was a gipsy from Dorothy-land, whose birth is highly questionable but whose growing up years were in the most populous Muslim country of Indonesia..."

Posted by: HerLao | November 22, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

dcraven925 is right on the button when he writes that the Supreme Court would effectively seal the end of the Republic if it overturned the election.

That a small group would be so intent on seeking its own end and turn the country on its head in the process escapes reason. That Thomas accepted the petition makes one at least suspect his motives and or sanity.

Hannity of course does everything to convince people that he doesn't have a decent bone in his body. He is a venom filled individual best not watched or listened to.

As for the reaction of the people if the Court even hinted that the election was invalid, well I think most reasonable thinking Americans would become unreasonable in quick order.

Posted by: rrau22 | November 22, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

GeorgiaGirl3 wrote about the suit filed against the election.

The suit is a complete and utter joke. It is unfortunate that Clarence Thomas is actually giving it any credence at all. The fact is that if the Supreme Court were to actually take this matter, it would essentially destroy the credibility of the Supreme Court. The facts are established beyond any reasonable doubt. President Elect Obama has an official certificate of birth issued by the State of Hawaii. The Honolulu Advertiser ran an annoucement of his birth ONE WEEK after he was born. This was the "automatic" announcement run at the time based on birth records supplied by the Department of Health to the newspaper. In sum, there is no basis for this law suit other than the paranoid ravings of a couple of lunatics.

Can you imagine the public reaction if the will of the people is subverted by the U.S. Supreme Court and a President picked by a clear majority of the American People is, in some way, stopped from serving? Blood will run in the streets. And it will mean the end of the Republic.

Posted by: dcraven925 | November 22, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a student of history, which allows him to learn from the mistakes of others. Making your picks carefully, including a 60 page application form and leaking names before announcing them (thereby enlisting the press in the vetting process), is presumably all meant to smooth the conformation process. So far, so good in that respect. A few questions for Holder about the Rich pardon are all the drama one can foresee so far (dodged a bullet with Pritzker in that respect).
On the broader point, Brooks is, in his usual perceptive way, right on money. It seems clear that people are being picked for their ability, not for their ideology or to reward loyalty. And above all, these are not "yes men" (or women). Brooks' point about not bringing in an "insular coterie of lifelong aides" is particularly perceptive - a benefit of Obama's short resume that few of us foresaw.
While I don't foresee difficulty with the confirmation process, it is still hard to tell whether these people will play well together and whether they will succeed in addressing the enormous problems they are inheriting. Those of us on the sidelines can only wish them well.

Posted by: wmw4 | November 22, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

georgiagirl13 wrote: Before Obama gets too comfortable it should be noted that on Thursday Nov 20th Justice Clarence Thomas referred a Petition for an Emergency Stay...
-------------------
Georgia, this is in the Giant Cheese Asteroids Will Smash Earth Next Tuesday area. Newsmax and Mr. Hannity may have delusions. But this is very old ground. Obama's mother was a citizen. He is a citizen. He is eligible to be President. And the chances of five Justices overturning this election are nil.

Posted by: davidscott1 | November 22, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

The inauguration of Barack Obama also marks America’s victory against republican morons like Sean Hannity (St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary high school); Rush Limbaugh (Cape Central High School); and Sarah Palin (1 semester Hawaii Pacific College, 2 semesters North Idaho Community College, 1 year Matanuska-Susitna College, 5 semesters University of Idaho).

The GOP base’s unequivocal devotion to these three dunderheads is pathetic and frightening—not to mention cause for the world to be very wary of American democracy.

Posted by: txgall | November 22, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Before Obama gets too comfortable it should be noted that on Thursday Nov 20th Justice Clarence Thomas referred a Petition for an Emergency Stay of the National Election to the full 9 member panel of the Supreme Court. This Emergency Stay will be discussed behind closed doors by the entire 9 members of the US Supreme Court on Dec 5th. If 4 members of the Court vote to take up the case it will be put on the docket for oral arguments.

NJ attorney Leo Donofrio has filed suit againsn't the Sec of State of NJ for failing to properly vett the candidates on the NJ electoral ballot. His suit alleges that Barack Obama, John McCain and another candidate are all ineligible to run for POTUS due to the fact that they are not "Natural Born Citizens"

This case has quietly worked its way up from the lower courts in recent weeks. Initially the Stay was denied by Justice David Souter however when re-submitted to Justice Thomas, Thomas accepted the stay and has referred it to the full court.

This is a potentially historically altering case similar to Bush vs Gore in 2000. There is a total Media lockdown and the only person who has mentioned this astounding event is Rush Limbaugh who briefly alluded to it this week on his radio show.

You can find additional information regardint the situation at Patriot Bigade Radio on the net.

Posted by: GeorgiaGirl3 | November 22, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I suppose you just don't say no to serve a new president, unless he is hopping mad. It's a duty, isn't it?

Posted by: asoders22 | November 22, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

When David Brooks likes your picks for the cabinet and staff, I'd say it's time to throw some curveballs to get him sputtering or at least thinking a bit. So far, the Daschle/Holder/Clinton/Napolitano announcements are relatively safe, so I think we need to have some "enlightened" choices.

Now, of course, we'll never know who might have turned down an offer, but I'm still hoping that Chris Shays or Lincoln Chafee may become the first Republicans named to major posts.

Posted by: bulldog6 | November 22, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama is apparently selecting Mrs. Clinton for Secretary of State in spite of her statements about being shot at at a Bosnian airport. She either is a liar or has no connection to reality. Those may not be problems for a politician but the Secretary of State has too much clout to be disconnected from reality or be in the habit of embellishing her descriptions. She could get this country into trouble.

Is Obama making the same kind of play as other politicians to pay off campaign debts and form alliances or is he serious about influencing the world and gaining us international help with our problems. Colin Powell may have been sandbagged by the Bush administration, but he was respected by the State Department professionals and he knows enough about Statecraft to contribute to the protection of this country.

Posted by: geno688 | November 22, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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