Obama ‘Shifting Power From Traditional Cabinet Posts’; Will Media Complain About ‘Too-Powerful Executive’?
I guess President Josiah Bartlet, the mythical president in The West Wing television series, would have been pleased.
Jonathan Martin at Politico.com reports that the Obama Administration is concentrating lots of power at the top (bolds are mine):
West Wing on steroids in Obama W.H.
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.
For all the talk of his “Team of Rivals” pick in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama last week handed the two hottest hotspots in American foreign policy to presidential envoys – one to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and the other to a man who knows his way around Foggy Bottom better than Clinton does, Richard Holbrooke.
“Czar” Carol Browner will head up Obama’s fight on global warming, where once his energy and environmental chiefs might have stepped in. Tom Daschle scored a ground floor office in the West Wing not by running Health and Human Services – but because of his role as Obama’s health-reform czar.
Pulling power close is something all recent presidents have done – and on the campaign trail, Obama spoke out against George W. Bush’s attempt to expand his executive authority.
But when it comes to building his own team, Obama is taking the notion of a powerful White House staff to new heights, leaving little doubt who will set policy and guide the politics of the his newborn administration.
….. Aides say he believes the Cabinet structure is outdated because it doesn’t recognize that problems like global warming sprawl across several agencies, often requiring a sort of uber-Cabinet member – a czar – to confront them.
That helps explain the selection of Browner as an “energy-environment” czar, said one Obama aide.
…..What’s notable about Obama’s approach – and expands on the approaches taken by Bush and Bill Clinton – is the number of different areas where Obama is seeking to tap a central figure, outside the Cabinet structure, who will carry out his wishes.
Does anyone remember candidate Obama telling us that “the Cabinet structure is outdated”?
A later Politico paragraph notes that “The structure also allowed Obama to bypass the Senate confirmation process on two nominees who would have proven controversial, by merely picking them for White House jobs instead.” Heck, why have a Cabinet at all?
Does anyone expect the press to object to this apparently unprecedented consolidation of power that avoids the Senate’s advise-and-consent role, or to let readers, listeners, and viewers know how Obama’s actions compare to his campaign rhetoric?
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.
UPDATE, Jan. 28: Here’s a marker for the future, from a MySpace blog sent to me by a fellow bloger (minor language cleanup and spelling corrections were done) –
He is in office now. So you can stop.
Ok, I really did not say anything when he got elected.
I really did not get up in arms when before he was sworn in he was tied to 4 scandals (Blagojevich, Bill Richardson, Biden’s Family, and Secretary of Treasury nominee Timothy Geithner.).
I said nothing when the harpie…..ahem ladies on the view assaulted Ann Coulter.
I did not say anything when the “dark economic times” were acknowledged by the most expensive inaugaration ever.
I glossed over VH1′s best week ever mocking President Bush on his way out of office.
I lightly chuckled when America elected a President that may very well not have even been born in this country.
I laughed in the irrelevant yet hiliarious comparisons to great American Presidents.
I also laughed when he was elected on his ability to cut a promo, yet really has no plan for America, save shutting down the prison where we keep people who want to kill as many of us in a single serving.
It’s been funny to me. Really funny, that someone who knows nothing, and has not a single attribute other than the ability to speak in public, has been, and continues to be revered as a Christ figure.
But to log on to MySpace… and see celebrities…PLEDGING THEIR ALLEGIANCE… NOT TO AMERICA….BUT TO OBAMA HIMSELF…
THERE, I SAID IT!
That my friends, is some straight up Hitler behavior. Period.
Posters with his beautified, saintly visage, inscribed on there, people weeping at the chance to touch him, collapsing at the inaugaration in a heap of emotion.
These my friends, as history has shown us, are the path to dictatorships.
Is he the AntiChrist? The Beast? Most likely not. He isnt that smart, and a lot more things have to happen before that does.
Do the way people treat and act around this guy leave open the potential for him to expand government to the point where they may very well control every facet of our life? Yes.
Not a one single person out there except for the polite minority I like to refer as “Conservatives” have spoken up or questioned a SINGLE thing that this guy is doing. At all. He is getting a free pass to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, and kids, thats not how democracy works.
We the people.
We the people govern ourselves. We are the captians of industry, and the purveyours of our own destinies.
Have we grown so weak as a society that we are enslaving ourselves to a man with a good marketing campaign?
For the next four years we are.
Im just waiting for the speech “The power you grant me I will lay down when this crisis is over!” WINK!
So this is how freedom dies, with thunderous applause.