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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches...

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He writes:

A plain blog about politics: Two For the Fed: I've mostly thought that Rahm Emanuel has done a good job in many respects, but the appointment process is definitely not one of them, and Obama should keep that in mind when he's putting his new team together.

That won't do it. That doesn't describe the situation. And as I have eaten my wheaties and read Michael Foucault's final Berkeley lectures about parrhesia, I am going to say what needs to be said.

First, a longer quote from Jonathan:

The Senate apparently cut a deal yesterday, approving a long list of executive branch nominations, most notably Janet Yellen and Sarah Raskin to the Fed (but not the third Obama nominee, Peter Diamond).  Presumably in exchange for that, and for GOP co-operation on some technical stuff that would have been a (minor, I think) hassle for the Democrats during the lame duck session, Harry Reid agreed to hold pro forma sessions through October so that Barack Obama cannot do any recess appointments. Brad DeLong's reaction is that "we need a very different Senate."   It's certainly fair to criticize the Senate for taking forever to confirm nominations that are not controversial -- the Fed appointments were approved by voice vote, and the other 52 nominations were by unanimous consent.... The nominations were announced on April 29 of this year, so it took the Senate five months. That's not great...

[B]ut if I recall correctly, two of the openings here go back to the beginning of Obama's presidency... far more of the delay is the responsibility of the president, not the Senate. Moreover, by taking so long to nominate people for executive and judicial positions, the White House is sending a signal about priorities.... Now, granted, part of the reason that nominations are taking so long in the first place is presumably because of how hard they are to confirm.... Still, I put a lot of the blame here on the administration...

To this I have two things to say:

  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.