An Insight Into Obama’s Vetting Problems

My law school classmate Richard Painter is guest blogging up a storm over at Chez Volokh. This has been a reminder that Richard thinks very differently from me.

I found this remark about Team Obama's vetting troubles insightful:

the nominees who have been problems have not been from the President's Chicago inner circle but other Democratic party stalwarts, many of whom did not work for his campaign until he got the nomination. Contrast this to the problems with the inner circles of Nixon, Carter (remember Bert Lance!) and Clinton and other presidents who brought to Washington some people from their home states who should have stayed home.

One commentator suggested it was because the old guard had already been thrown under vehicles during the campaign, but I don't think most of the few cause célèbres would have up for jobs anyway.

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18 Responses to An Insight Into Obama’s Vetting Problems

  1. kiss says:

    You voted for Obama, now just nod and smile and ignore the fact that the team he assembled is (to borrow his term) rather “Special Olympics”.

    Come on michael, what’s a few hundred thousand in unpaid federal taxes among friends?

  2. michael says:

    Actually, I’m instinctually a hawk on things like taxes. I pay my taxes, including the so-called ‘nanny tax’ for the lady who comes to clean for half a day a week, and I don’t see why I can’t expect the same thing from people who want to be trusted with the federal cookie jar.

    PS. Why are all but one of my trolls afraid to sign their names?

  3. kiss says:

    Funny, because you never blogged word one when it turned out some of Obama’s top picks had tax issues. Where are your calls for Geithner’s head then? The same guy who had unpaid taxes let the AIG scandal (continue to) unfold. I guess his hands in the cookie jar are OK because he returns Krugman’s calls?

    P.S. I’ll give you my name when Obama stops using a teleprompter to give 5 minute speeches that force the postponement of far more important programs, i.e. American Idol.

  4. LACJ says:

    Seriously? Am I the only troll around here with the integrity to use my legal name, in full? Wow that is sad.

  5. elliottg says:

    Noone doesn’t have tax problems. It’s nice that you are a hawk, but it IS actually too much to expect given the complexity and the sums involved. The biggest problem was Geithner’s who I believe until proven otherwise was misled by TurboTax.

  6. elliottg says:

    I’m excluding Daschle who needed to be tossed (and was) and was part of Obama’s inner circle.

  7. kiss says:

    elliott I hope you’re being sarcastic when you said:
    “The biggest problem was Geithner’s who I believe until proven otherwise was misled by TurboTax”
    because if not, Bernie Madoff has a bridge in Manhattan to sell you….

    Oh and michael, speaking of cookie jars, do your children play on a $20,000 playground in your back yard paid for with tax payer money? Obama’s kids do. Yes that’s right. Obama spent over half of the median US income worth of taxpayer money on a playground for his two (2) girls. Ummmmm….what was that he said last night about everyone making sacrifices and thinking about the common good? So come on, michael and LACJ…defend your Overlord Obama and explain that one to us?! Google it boys, its true. You’ve been had, big time.

  8. kiss says:

    My bad, the playground only retails for $15K, and there is no official announcement yet as to who is paying for it. If it turns out that Lord O paid for it himself, well that will just make everything right, won’t it?

  9. michael says:

    I don’t get it. They have to live in the white house. Taking the kids to play in a public playground would undoubtedly cost far far more in security overtime and subject them to real dangers of kidnapping by terrorists and nut cases. You’d rather have that?

    Objecting to the kids having a safe place to play is pathetic.

    In any case, what Obama actually said was that he rejected calls for *additional* sacrifice as if that might fix the economic mess, he thought enough people had sacrificed enough already by losing jobs etc.

  10. kiss says:

    You’re kidding right?

    The Obama children already attend private school daily. Presumably there are recreational opportunities there. Presumably, that private school is already heavily guarded and very secure. Keep in mind, in many neighborhoods in this country, it is unsafe for children to even venture outside to play. So spare me their suffering.

    Secondly, nobody is objecting to his children having a safe place to play. The question is whether a $15K “porsche of playgrounds” is necessary. The White house already has a bowling alley (think Special Olympics), numerous theaters and big screen tv’s, video games, and who knows what else for kids to amuse themselves with. *gasp* There might even be books in the library!

    You don’t think a top-of-the-line Walmart playground would to the trick for less than 1K?

    I’ll concede it probably was Obama’s own money. So what. How is indulging one’s children in extravagant gifts any different from the same excesses and greed he is supposedly railing against? I’m sure some of the AIG execs planned on buying their teenage children BMWs. The private schools I get, the safety issue you raise. But a playground costing $15K is just spoiling the children. How will they ever be able to relate to kids who grow up with nothing more than a sandbox and imagination? Oh and by the way, (arguably) Chelsea Clinton seems to have done fine without such a playground (although perhaps her therapist knows something we don’t….)

    You and I heard different speeches. I heard a man telling me to think of the greater good, and telling me to put my own selfish needs aside. That despite a drop in the charitable deduction the wealthy should keep giving to charity. In the meantime, his VP gives practically nothing to charity despite a healthy six-figure+ salary. Obama burns $15K+ on a playground for his 2 girls. If he has that kind of money laying around, why not walk the walk and buy a nice playground set for some of the poor kids living in DC? Or how about get some of the kids out of the “tent cities” we heard about last night? How many kids could live in the tree house that his kids playground comes with?

    Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Maybe if you had $15K handed to you today you’d go out and buy your kids the same playground. Why not? Its your money. Spending it on an indulgent luxury like that would be a very good (Republican) thing to do after all.

    Mountain out of a molehill? Maybe. But I wonder if back in his “community organizer” days Obama would say the same thing about rich white Republicans who bought their children $15K playgrounds?

  11. michael says:

    Think of it as economic stimulus. (And I believe that Obama has made a lot of money recently from royalties from his book, so he can afford it. Incidentally, did you complain about GWB’s trips to his made-for-TV ranch while he was President? The ranch he bought for the Presidency, spent a record number of days at ‘on vacation’, and sold as soon as he no longer needed to play cowboy?)

  12. kiss says:

    Not sure why you assume that Obama’s disbelievers are, ipso facto, Bush supporters. Putting my own views of Bush aside, I do not think historians will look back on his tenure as a period of hero worship by the right. I don’t even think historians will characterize the Reagan era as such. Reagan was perhaps admired, but never worshiped.

    The Obama campaign and these early days of his presidency will absolutely be characterized as dark days in American democracy, where the people reverted to Old World medieval subjugation to an imaginary philosopher King, savior, or whatever you want to call him. I do not even think that Obama himself did much to cultivate his cult of personality, the media and non-thinking elites (finger point) did that for him. Compare his image to Gore, Kerry, or Clinton; you’re going to tell me the way half of the country feels about Obama is not an unhealthy mutation of worship? Why should it be simply excess jubilation at the fact the powerful federal government is now headed by someone (you hope) is better than the last guy? You still have a man in possession of more power over other men than any man should have. You better keep an eye on that man.

    For example, last night let’s take Obama’s answer as to why he need days to say something about AIG, to paraphrase, he needed time to think. Many on the left are applauding that answer, saying Obama “slapped” the reporter. Odd, because those same on the left expected Bush to immediately react when told of 9/11 and mock him for sitting silent in front of school children he was visiting at the time. Michael Moore made a whole movie mocking a man for taking time to think. When Obama needs days to address a relatively simple issue of right or wrong, he’s still a God.

    I don’t think many republicans ever excused Bush’s many frequent vacations. As far as his personal spending and wealth, I think if you do the research you will find that he and his wife contribute 10% of their income to charity, the Obamas 5%, and the Bidens 0.2%. In my morality, which is of course arbitrary on this point, a man who gives 10% of his income away to charity can do with the other 90% as he pleases. If he wants to play cowboy why not? This is America after all.

    But for a man who only gives 5% (and chose a running mate who gives .2%) to get up and tell America to sacrifice for the common good, well that is certainly an Audacity, to say the least.

    You and LACJ fail to see is that all criticism of Obama is not a zero sum game of implicit endorsement of Bush. It is, from me and others, a criticism of an America that has in the figurative sense elected itself a King instead of a President. He has no clothes.

  13. LACJ says:

    kiss, keep going, your fact-free dream world is quite humorous. I am busy with a memo at present but will be back soon to destroy your fantasy world, point by point.

    That is, assuming these ‘dark days’ of American democracy don’t destroy the whole world!! before I am able to do so.

    If you happen to re-fill you meds, please, please do post at least one more time before they kick in. The more I read the better it gets.

  14. LACJ says:

    (finger point)

    This is gonna be fun.

  15. LACJ says:

    See, kiss, your problem is you never even try to back up anything. Why should anyone take you seriously when you can’t even be bothered to see if something is factually right? Shall we start at the top?

    Ok, the post notices relatively more income tax problems about national rather than local picks; you throw out a slightly taunting comment about a few hundred thou in unpaid taxes. Is that number right? I dunno, because you didn’t check.

    Then you go to a specific claim, which I have dealt with before. You cannot simply say ‘well you didn’t blog about the one issue so therefore you are biased’ because you can’t expect a blog with perhaps 60 posts in a month is trying to provide comprehensive coverage. Obama’s DOJ just got criticized, and rightly so (this is a law blog, right), and that is an unclear structure but I like it anyway.

    elliot then steps in with some facts (or at least asserts fatual information directly and unambiguously, i.e. he does not link) and you just dismiss them with a turn of phrase. What WAS the amount of unpaid taxes, anyway? You don’t know and I don’t know. But your argument depends on them.

    Then, and this is quite precious, you complain about 20,000 dollars! Spent on a swingset and playground! For their 2 (two) children! Horrors!

    Michael then mentions Bush’s many vacations, and it goes right over your head.

    If you don’t know that flying Bush to his fake ranch two times a month costs the taxpayers a little bit more that 20,000 dollars, you are in the wrong site. Complaining about 20,000 dollars is laughing out loud funny, just on the face of it. At least 5,000 toilets or whatever could conceivably be ordered in bulk, here we have a one-time purchase for 20,000 dollars. Man.

    So I suppose I could actually try to engage at this point. You see, you actually got half serious about knowing the right number at this point, and came back with a revised number, which make me think you actually looked it up. But anyway I suppose I could have said, gee wiz, but that’s only 5,000 per year! Or maybe it will end up being 2,500 in fact ;- ) But, even then there will be wasteful under-utilization towards the end of the period. We could complain about that.

    Anyways so here we are and facts almost matter, so its looking pretty good, in a relative sense.

    Then you go off on a tangent to the best I can figure. First you rail on how they should have bought a Walmart(?) one for cool thou, then you go ahead and say, yeah, he is probably going to pay that by himself, an argument I wouldn’t have even thought of! So you kinda made my brain wrap up into itself of something for a moment. So that’s something, I suppose.

    Because after voluntarily destroying your whole premise, you will continue to rant. And this is where things get fun. Because first you turn into Ms. Prudy Matilda or something, with this spoiling the kids. Oh, horrors to mergatroid, the children will be warped by their precious swingset! Can you see where this is going? In one sense, it is all becoming clear. In another, well who knows what is next.

    Then, we come to the main dish. I wish I could do it justice. I really do. But its just too much for me. Briefly:

    The rant about how Obama haters are not necessarily, ipso facto, Bush lovers is then belied by your subject standard of ‘worshiped’. Oh yeah, that’s your made up central premise, isn’t it? The one you are always trying to ‘prove’.

    Here we have the glorious dark days and medieval subjugation, and finally culminating in the emperor w/o clothing. The new one of course, somehow not the same as the old one. That’s the custard filling right there, the gem in the rough.

    Then, to come full circle, you start throwing out more made up numbers, this time openly admitting that you have no idea and are just guessing. Look at this conditional weaseling: “I think if you do the research you will find “

    Overall, I give it a C+ at best. The bizarre ranting was a good save there at the end, but the commitment to communal facts is minimal, making it less interesting to bother engaging.

    Every time Bush had Air Force One take him to Crawford it cost the government 18.3 million dollars! I write it so it has power!

    Would you like to start this debate from my made up numbers?

  16. LACJ says:

    (finger point)

  17. michael says:

    What does “(finger point)” mean, please?

  18. LACJ says:

    kiss used it in his diatribe about how we all worship at Obama’s feet:

    I do not even think that Obama himself did much to cultivate his cult of personality, the media and non-thinking elites (finger point) did that for him.

    That’s you, Michael, the supposedly non-thinking elite that frustrates him so much, he had to make it absolutely clear.

    I found that amusing, myself.

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