By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
President Obama, your inexperience is showing. I've been keeping quiet about this for a while, trying to give the president the benefit of the doubt. But day after day we learn about another imploded cabinet nominee and it's getting to be way too much.
Sen. Judd Gregg yesterday became the latest fatality—this time over policy differences with the administration on census and stimulus package issues.
We're teetering on the brink of unforgivable inexperience as this week the president's own remarks and those of his disgraced treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, sent the stock market unnecessarily into the tank once again. President Obama used the term "catastrophic" in association with the economy. It's fine to do that when you're an Illinois State Senator. But when you do it as president, the stock market falls through the floor.
President Obama has had too long a series of cabinet catastrophes, recounted here by Reuters, which for some reason does not include the implosion of Bill Richardson's nomination as commerce secretary:
"Here are the nominees who encountered problems:
* Gregg was Obama's second pick for commerce secretary after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew in the face of a legal inquiry. Obama spent nearly a month before choosing Gregg, a well-respected lawmaker and accomplished negotiator, who pulled out on Thursday, saying he saw "irresolvable conflicts" with the Democratic president.
* Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle withdrew his name from consideration as Health and Human Services secretary on February 3 amid questions over tax errors that prompted him to pay $140,000 (98,500 pounds) in back taxes. Obama still needs to nominate someone else to oversee the healthcare system.
* Obama chose Democratic Representative Hilda Solis of California for Labour Secretary. The Senate Labour Committee this week recommended that she be confirmed by the full Senate, after questions about her husband's unpaid business taxes had earlier put her confirmation hearing on hold.
* Nancy Killefer, Obama's choice to oversee budget and spending reform, withdrew on February 3 because of tax problems. She stepped aside the same day Daschle's withdrew.
* Timothy Geithner was confirmed as treasury secretary by a vote of 60-34 on January 26 despite questions about late payment of some taxes. He previously served as head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank."
By comparison, most recent presidents have had one, maybe two cabinet implosions:
"Each of the last three presidents has withdrawn at least one Cabinet nominee amid controversy.
George H.W. Bush's nomination of John Tower as Defense secretary in 1989 ran into trouble amid accusations of Tower's excessive drinking and womanizing. Bill Clinton's nomination of Zoe Baird as attorney general in 1993 was derailed by revelations that she had hired illegal immigrants for household help, as was George W. Bush's nomination of Linda Chavez as Labor secretary.
Contentious hearings on the Tower nomination marred the early days of the elder Bush's presidency, and controversy over Baird was a distraction during Clinton's inauguration. But Chavez withdrew 11 days before the younger Bush took office, and he suffered little political damage.
George W. Bush also lost Bernard Kerik during his second term. Kerik had financial and personal problems that doomed his ill-suited nomination as homeland security chief. But that was not during his first term.
To the 60 percent plus of Americans who still support President Obama, I have this to say: Is he well intentioned? Most likely. But does he lack the experience one normally needs before stepping into the nation's top position: emphatically yes. You wanted new, you wanted change. You sure got it and not all in a good way.
I think Mr. Obama's lack of experience will continue to cause his administration problems for quite some time. He needs to get over his proclivity to try to make everyone happy. It cannot be done. We are a divided nation with real, resolute philosophical differences. This proclivity is what doomed Mr. Obama's selection of an arch-conservative Republican as commerce secretary. If you try to make everyone happy all the time, you end up making most people unhappy much of the time. Overtures to the other side are a good, even great act. But forget about trying to win the permanent support of conservative Republicans. It'll never happen. They weren't even happy with George Bush, who governed from the extreme right.
I expected Mr. Obama to mature in office much more quickly.
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