Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Loyalty vs. Practicality

It's clear that Obama won't be emulating one part of the Bush administration and that's its famous loyalty that was written about in books like this one which characterized W's administration as giving blind, unquestioning loyalty to insiders in the face of adversity without a whiff of sensitivity to public opinion or alternative viewpoints.

Still who would have thought that less than one month into his presidency he would have thrown three cabinet level appointments under the bus all of whom were supposedly vetted by the "most rigid" process ever. And at least two more, Eric Holder and Timothy Geithner came under serious attacks for other "issues" in their backgrounds. Well apparently the Obama's people thought rigid meant something a little different than the OED's definition.

First there was Bill Richardson, who as I noted before at least publicly bitched about the back-stabbing. Then today a two-for, with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer both getting this kind of treatment from the White House for some unpaid taxes. Hell Daschle even got the ole kiss of death, an "absolute" vote of confidence from Obama less than 24 hours ago.

I gotta admit, I'm surprised. Remember when everyone was talking about "the Chicago way" that Obama brought to the White House. Well Old Man Daley (the original Richard J.) would not have done this. In fact as Mike Royko's classic book Boss illustrates, the Chicago Machine was famously loyal to its own even facing far worse than either Daschle or Killefer were accused of.

Part of me kind of likes the fact that Obama rips the rug out from underneath people when they least expect it, but another part of me wonders who the hell was "vetting" these people and how in God's name he thinks he's going to get anyone's loyalty acting this way. Whatever the answer, at least Obama has made working for this administration more like the real world in one way - folks can sure lose their jobs in a hurry.

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