March 9, 2011
Inside the Obama Administration
Barack Obama's executive ineptitude is on display at the highesty level of government. While he has been repeatedly meeting with union leaders over the last two years and playing golf, he has not been so attentive to his cabinet members, and all is not peaceful. The Nobel Peace Prize winner needs to work his magic close to home.
According to an article in New York magazine by veteran journalist John Heilemann, Obama has not yet conferred with some six Cabinet members since becoming President. He certainly has been busy appointing czars and czarinas, however, and advisers such as Elizabeth Warren who is the de facto head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Apparently, cabinet members are not feeling the love and are in a rebellious mood. There have recurring reports over the last few years that Barack Obama relies on a small, hard-core group of advisers to make and enact policy. He does not like "new people."
Anne E. Kornblut of the Washington Post reports that the White House is in repair mode-trying to tamper the anger:
News this week of the first departure of a Cabinet secretary from the Obama administration comes amid a wide-ranging effort under the new chief of staff, William M. Daley, to repair badly frayed relations between the White House and the Cabinet.During the first two years of President Obama's term, the administration fully embraced just a few of his superstar picks -- people such as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. But many more agency chiefs conducted their business in relative anonymity, sometimes after running afoul of White House officials.Both sides were deeply disgruntled. Agency heads privately complained that the White House was a "fortress" that was unwilling to accept input and that micromanaged their departments. Senior administration advisers rolled their eyes in staff meetings at the mention of certain Cabinet members, participants said.Obama himself said his advisers were relying on him too frequently as a messenger, rather than letting his appointees carry important themes to the country, senior administration officials said. And the president felt isolated. "One of the first things he said to me was, 'I want to see these people more often,' " Daley said in an interview.
Apparently, Obama picks favorites.
The top tier is prized, with Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner in good stead. So, too, is Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., even after some early angst over his decision to hold a controversial terrorism trial in New York. They head the traditional "big four," the original departments created by George Washington, with the heftiest portfolios. Additionally, aides said, Obama cherishes Duncan, who is a basketball buddy and a charismatic advocate.Everyone else has had problems, to widely varying degrees
Seemingly, the laying of hands did not extend to most of the Cabinet. There were internal battles among Cabinet members as well, but there is no denying that the White House dropped the ball in managing the officials chosen to lead the nation.
Also, not meeting with at least 6 cabinet members since assuming office is insulting, especially given the time spent on the golf links, at East Room musical soirees, vacations, and pick-up basketball games with NBA superstars.
Perhaps it is time for another beer summit, featuring the beer that the Obamas have found time to brew themselves at the White House, another historic first.