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So Much for the Greatest Transition in World History
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A New York Times headline yesterday read: “Obama’s Team Is Lacking Most of Its Top Players.”

Yes, so much for the Greatest Transition in World History (a point expounded on in the introduction to Culture of Corruption, where I note that for all the hype about Obama’s brilliant, efficient, amazingly genius transition team, Obama failed to beat the pace of the Reagan White House, which had 73 officials confirmed by Day 100 compared to Obama’s 65 — and which avoided the bungles and baggage that Obama’s botched nominees brought with them.)

The bottom line so far, the NYT now reports:

As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.

Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled — a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both…

…Measuring the progress in appointments depends on what positions are counted and who is doing the counting. The White House Transition Project counts 543 policymaking jobs requiring Senate confirmation in four top executive ranks. As of last week, Mr. Obama had announced his selections for 319 of those positions, and the Senate had confirmed 236, or 43 percent of the top echelon of government. Other scholars have slightly different but similar tallies.

The White House prefers to include ambassadors, United States attorneys, marshals and judges, who are also subject to Senate votes but are not counted by the scholars. By that count, Mr. Obama has won confirmation of 304 nominees, compared with 301 for Mr. Bush, 253 for Bill Clinton and 212 for the first President George Bush at this point in their administrations.

If lower-ranking senior executive service officials and political appointees who do not require Senate approval are counted, the White House said it had installed 1,830 people, at least 50 percent more than any of the last three presidents had at this stage.

No matter how the counting is done, though, hundreds of senior positions remain empty with 15 percent of Mr. Obama’s term over.

Blame is tossed around by partisan Democrats who assail the “intrusive” vetting process and obstructionist Republicans.

But even liberal bloggers are rejecting the lame spin. From commenter Bart DePalma at left-wing Balkinization:

Sandy, this is completely a failure of the Obama Administration and no one else.

Nearly ten months after his election, Obama has failed to even nominate 224 out of 543 or 41% of all positions. (Although he has found time to appoint over two dozen unaccountable “czars.”)

Of the 319 folks Obama find time to nominate, less than a handful have holds. The Senate has not confirmed them all because many have only just been nominated half a year after Obama took office.

The whine that Team Obama is having a hard time finding folks who have not committed felony tax evasion like many of is original nominations is, shall we say, less than sympathy inducing.

This is what you get when you elect an utterly inexperienced President with less executive experience than a certain ex-Alaska governor backed by a Chicago based team that has never run anything apart from a campaign.

And from commenter Brett:

It’s a fair point Bart is making: The remnant of Republicans in the Senate might be able to, thanks to Senate rules, block a few nominations from coming to a vote. But they can’t be blamed for nominations never made.

Well, yes they can. Team Obama always find a way to redistribute away the blame.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology