Sunday, January 25, 2009
Barack Obama is centralizing power in the White House as, allegedly, no modern president before him has done:
President Barack Obama is taking far-reaching steps to centralize decision-making inside the White House, surrounding himself with influential counselors, overseas envoys and policy "czars" that shift power from traditional Cabinet posts.
Not even a week has passed since he was sworn in, but already Obama is moving to create perhaps the most powerful staff in modern history – a sort of West Wing on steroids that places no less than a half-dozen of his top initiatives into the hands of advisers outside the Cabinet.
Something tells me that a strong president and unitary executive are suddenly going to become fashionable. Hillary Clinton must be appalled, but checks and balances are so 2008.
CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.
I'm betting he'll be a weak president, unwilling to take decisive steps.
Already, his symbolic bows to his "base", on Guantanamo and on waterboarding, have been waffling statements. Obama takes politically popular steps easily and adeptly, but I have seen zero evidence he'll be willing to make an unpopular move.
The "stimulus" is a perfect example. It's everything he says he didn't want, stretched out over a decade instead of quick, diffuse in it's spending instead of "targeted", larded with pork instead of for "shovel ready infrastructure" projects". But rather than pick an early fight with Nancy Pelosi, he's letting her decide what goes into the package.
Having czars and cabinet secretaries, and a Secretary of State along with Special Envoys, strikes me as an organizational plan for disaster. This seems ready made to promote turf battles, bickering/feuding and questions of who is really in charge. However, I am a feebleminded old f@rt and likely don't see the obvious advantages. Still, I can't see this working in the corporate world, and human nature being what it is, I don't see it working here either.
TH, it seems that bringing in multiple specialized policy analysts diffuses power, in that the Cabinet and analysts must share, or at worst reallocates it. I think a parallel might be a doctrine of ownership within a company of financial analysts; you have more than one person discussing the changes in the oil market, and thereby get multiple perspectives and power sharing rather than the unilateral "party line".
I think that would be true, Eric the R, if the whole "company" were the White House staff and the Cabinet. The problem will come from Washington's permanent bureaucracy, which did so much to frustrate White House policy during the Bush years. Now, I think that the civil service probably voted for Obama 9.5 to 1 or so, which will give him a leg up, but they will get annoyed if some of their turf is reallocated to people who are not looking out for them institutionally.
... you have more than one person discussing the changes in the oil market, and thereby get multiple perspectives and power sharing rather than the unilateral "party line".
Good when the separate entities are providing analysis, bad when they are responsible for policy implementation.
Of course State has been broken for decades, and parts of the CIA need to be dissolved and completely replaced, from the ground up.
The One is a moral and intellectual coward at his core. He needs a lot of advisers around so that when a decision is finally made there will be someone to blame it on. "My staff screwed up" will be the standard response from Obama has it has been his entire career ...
Obama is falling into the trap of being too bold by half. He objectively has very little experience historically speaking and his moves appear to be a bit too bold. Kind of like a mail room clerk becoming CEO after 5 years and reorganizing the entire executive structure without much of a roadmap to follow from those before him. Generally it's a mistake to make bold moves with the only justificatin is to be able to claim that your approach is "bold". O's admin. will either be fabulously successful or a dreadful failure. This much risk doesn't lend itself to much of a middle of the road outcome - unfortunately.
Well, isn't this supposed to be some sort of "team of rivals" working hard to make the "best possible outcome"? Sounds eerily similar to how FDR organized his Executive in 1933, and created rival agencies and lines of authority and responsibility to "fight it out" below his (Obama's) level. That may not work out so great, as it really didn't for Roosevelt.
Point of friction that is most evident: the person who is Obama's Gatekeeper, controlling access. That would be Rahm Emmanuel, chief of staff. If he breaks down in his tasks, the whole system breaks down.
um, you didn't seem to mind when it was your guy doing it.
Who was Bush's war czar but Rumsfeld or Gates? Who pushed the Medicare drug bill but Cabinet officials? Even if you believe Cheney ran everything, as the Vice-President he was a real government official.
by the way, your name, tigerhawk, is SO GAY.
As a "real" bisexual (slept with a woman at least twice, and enjoyed it at least once), I can confirm that "Tigerhawk" sounds like a WWII US fighter plane.
He apparently intends to rule by committee; a recipe for dysfunction and slow, disjointed response during times of crisis. I suspect this is because he knows (even if on a subconscious level) that he has never been in an executive position before and isn't up to it, at least out of the gate.
"As a "real" bisexual (slept with a woman at least twice, and enjoyed it at least once), I can confirm that "Tigerhawk" sounds like a WWII US fighter plane."
I guess that means you're batting 1.000 so far with the bisexual men demographic, Hawk.
I think that would be true, Eric the R, if the whole "company" were the White House staff and the Cabinet. The problem will come from Washington's permanent bureaucracy, which did so much to frustrate White House policy during the Bush years
We're never really going to fix the government unless this "permanent bureaucracy" is eliminated. I say term limits for all in government (exclusions for military, Postal Service, etc.). Ten years, and you go back to the productive class (and ideally, you wouldn't start in government either, so you'd have an actual talent to utilize when you got there).
And if you couldn't cut it in the productive class? Well, McDonald's is always hiring...
It's time to grow the productive class in America.