Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Ethics Watch

Eli Saslow writes in The Washington Post about a key White House staffer you'd never heard of before: Norm Eisen.

"Eisen is the White House ethics adviser, the guardian of Obama's integrity, and he is called for consultation every time the new administration has a question regarding more than 1,000 pages of government ethics rules and regulations."

He's the guy who gets "to deliver bad news to some of the most important people in the White House. While his official title is special counsel for ethics and government reform, Eisen is also known among colleagues by his nicknames: 'Mr. No' and 'The Fun Sponge.'....

"In one of his first assignments on the job, Eisen, who was a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law School, helped craft an executive order that imposed the most far-reaching government ethics reform in decades, experts and historians said. But, for Eisen, the hard part is just beginning: He must ensure that the administration lives up to its own standards and adheres to its own rules. Since late January, when a few senior officials were hired despite having tax problems or lobbyist connections, Eisen has become more central to the vetting process for administration positions. He recommends who should and shouldn't be hired, reminding the Obama White House that its reputation is at stake.

"'Sometimes my job is to scare the bejesus out of everybody,' Eisen said. 'That's part of my function. That's what I do.'...

"'You're not going to understand all the rules. It's too complicated,' Eisen said. 'So you use your common sense. How's this going to look on the front page of The Washington Post?'"

Meanwhile, Jonathan Martin writes for Politico: "As he strives to build an administration beyond his top Cabinet officers, Obama is finding that he has limited his pool of potential appointees because of a ban on individuals from agencies that they have lobbied within the past two years.

"Some of the very people who would best serve in politically sensitive posts – interest group veterans, former campaign operatives or ex-Hill staffers – earn a living through lobbying.

"The policy has spurred frustration among some Democratic lobbyists, especially those who got behind Obama early in his hard-fought primary. They believe the president is depriving himself of an entire group of capable aides – at a time when Obama already is having trouble staffing up his Treasury Department and other key agencies."

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 13, 2009; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Roses and Thorns
Next: Obama to Washington: Chill Out


One has to wonder what Charles Krauthammer thought about the column in the WP by Eli Saslow on the new White House ethics advisor, given the odd opinion piece he wrote in today's Post ("Obama's Science Fiction").

Mr. Krauthammer chastised President Obama for lack of Scientific ethics, in his assertion that Obama had not engaged in the "nuanced" mental ruminations that Mr. Bush supposedly exhibited in his first term speech on the use of stem cell lines. Mr. Krauthammer stated that Mr. Bush's speech was "so scrupulous in presenting the best case for both his view and the contrary view that until the last few minutes, the listener had no idea where Bush would come out" (After the speech, I still had no idea what he was advocating until I did some follow up reading on the subject of stem cell lines).

On the one hand, Mr. Krauthammer criticized the President for leaving the door wide open for cloned and non-cloned human embryos "solely for the purpose of dismemberment and use for parts". One the other hand, he verbally smacks Mr. Obama for declaring that "he would never open the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction", after stating that we must resist the "false choice between SOUND science and moral values".

Mr. Krauthammer had an invitation to attend the ceremony, but he avoided attending out of a sense of caution (guilt by association, perhaps?). Was he afraid of having to justify or apologize for his appearance to Mr. Limbaugh? Moral values, in order to be valid, must also be accompanied by moral courage.

Posted by: MillPond2 | March 13, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Stem cell research holds a lot of promise to help those who are afflicted with many disabling diseases. Were the drug companies in bed with the cheney/bush miaadministration in shooting down stem cell research in order to protect the drug companies market?

Posted by: ghostcommander1 | March 13, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company