Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catch of the Day

I blamed the appointments mess on Rahm Emanuel.  Brad DeLong corrects me:
  1. Blame is not zero-sum. Jonathan Implies that the blame should be taken off of the Senate and placed on... Rahm Emmanuel. No. It doesn't work that way. Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are blameworthy, and should be blamed.
  2. The COSSACK WORKS FOR THE CZAR!! THE APPOINTMENTS %^$#@$% SCREW-UPS IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ARE NOT RAHM EMMANUEL'S FAULT BUT BARACK OBAMA'S. In a sane system of government--a parliamentary system, for example--Obama's failure to take appointments seriously would be proper grounds for his immediate elevation to the House of Lords and exclusion from any and all levers of power. Nobody should accept a senior appointment to the cabinet or the White House staff until Obama names somebody else as Deputy President for Personnel--Chris Edley or Erskine Bowles or John Podesta or whoever--and agrees to rubber-stamp their decisions. If Obama isn't interested in that part of the job, fine: he shouldn't do it. But he needs to let somebody else do it--and do it now, and blaming Rahm for this is not accurate.
He's right, in both cases.

Well, not about the parliamentary system of government, at least not in my view.  And I think that Emanuel deserves plenty of blame -- also.  But about blaming Obama and the Senate: yes.  Absolutely.  Good catch.


  1. If Obama isn't interested in that part of the job, fine: he shouldn't do it. But he needs to let somebody else do it--and do it now, and blaming Rahm for this is not accurate.

    Ummm.... wasn't DeLong just complaining that Obama, not being interested in the appointments part of the job, let someone else do it, and that someone's name was Rahm? So what exactly is he suggesting here? Is there some double-secret sarcasm here that I'm missing?

  2. I dunno, Andrew, but it is odd. Personally, I have my doubts that ANY President pays attention to ALL of the appointments he has to make- cabinet and judiciary, of course. Sub-Cabinet, I should hope so. Any further lower positions in a cabinet department or agency or advisory board that is going to be a pressing issue or one of the President's personal concerns, too. But I have to wonder if the President (any President) really puts a lot of thought into NRLB members or FCC members (besides the chairman). Seems to me that that's probably just a decision from his staff that he rubber stamps.

    Now, of course, if the staff isn't making that decision, y'know, buck stops there, and all, so maybe that's what DeLong means. But either way, if I'm right that Presidents don't spend a lot of time on the lowest level of their appointments (And if I'm not, please! I want to learn!), then it's no harm to point out that his staff was falling down on that job, too, even if you acknowledge the President himself is ultimately responsible.

  3. I kinda side with DeLong on this, or at least I think I do.

    That is, Obama's ultimate responsibility doesn't require that he be looking over everyone's shoulder on appointments. But, at a minimum, Obama should have available to him a list of the open jobs or a count of them. And, while I certainly don't expect him to check on the count or list all that often, maybe once a quarter he would look at that list and say: "wow, that's a long list. Rahm, get on this."

    I tend to think less of this issue than Jon, but I also don't think that this is an issue that should be all that hard to delegate and oversee with a bare minimum of effort, so having done nothing is really pretty inexcusable.


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