Friday, March 06, 2009

The Bottom of the Barrel

Bill Buckley famously commented that he'd much rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty at Harvard University.

We see before us the wisdom of his remark. The Obama administration, sifting through the prestigious dregs of the most famous universities in the country, is rapidly running out of even superficially plausible candidates for its sub-cabinet appointments. Contenders have been dropping from the process like flies; four months after the election, whole floors of critically important agencies are vacant of policy makers. To an extent, the Treasury mirrors the private sector it is supposed to be rebuilding; it, too, is a "see through" building.

Those who have volunteered and been chosen are not assuring. They are bright, well-trained academically and nearly universally inexperienced. Unfortunately, it is experience that is essential; especially so, unarguably so in a real crisis such as that currently challenging us.

Think for a moment: In crisis, is there a leadership role where the outcome is indifferent to the experience and expertise of the person taking the lead? Now, name an actual real-life expert in President Obama's cabinet or inner circle of senior advisers.

There is one, but only one.

Name the cabinet member(s) whose lead you'd follow in a true emergency. Name one you'd like sending your child's platoon out on a mission, flying the plane in which your spouse is riding when both engines quit on takeoff, selecting one from the several best techniques to get your heart beating again. Name one, just one, you'd trust for four years with: all your money, the upbringing of your children, the medical care of your parents.

Bright isn't the same as intelligent. Facile talkers are not necessarily competent doers.

Here is the list of President Obama's cabinet members. Where's the list of matching accomplishments?


Gabsters? Sure.

Politically aware? You bet.

People we need in crisis leadership? Not at all.

The President elected for talking is going to lead by talking for talking is all he knows.

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