Leadership Lost To Political Hostility
in-fighting the political feuding occurring in Washington has had an impact on the quality of people willing to claw through
the fire to accept important presidential appointments.
has been observed throughout the years during efforts to select good men and women to fill seats on the U. S. Supreme Court
and fill important cabinet and department leadership positions. We do not remember a time like this when an entire year of
a president’s term has passed without all of the appointments filled and key government offices operating at half-staff.
and most visible withdrawal was that of Erroll Southers, President Obama’s choice to head the Transportation Security
Administration. This was a key job at a time when this office, operating under the umbrella of the Homeland Security Protection
Agency, is carrying the burden of protecting travelers from terrorist attacks.
credentials are impeccable. He was a former FBI agent currently serving as assistant chief of airport police in Los Angeles.
Yet his nomination remained blocked for months by Republican opposition. In his announcement that he was withdrawing his nomination
Southers complained that he had become a political lightning rod. “I am not a politician. I’m a counter-terrorist
expert. They took an apolitical person and politicized my career.”
loss to the nation was the withdrawal of Annette Nazareth from the position of deputy in the United States Treasury Department
at a time of the nation’s most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. Nazareth, a former staffer and commissioner
with the Securities and Exchange Commission, fell under severe assault for what opponents said was lax oversight of the banking
many might level similar criticisms against Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, for whom Nazareth might have served, Geithner
has been struggling to head off this crisis almost single handed. At last count, none of the 17 deputies he should have helping
him have been seated. None of the appointments have yet been confirmed by the Senate.
Obama appointments that have backed off after weeks and months of personal assault from Republican ranks include Dr. Sanjay
Gupta, the high-profile CNN medical correspondent picked for the office of Surgeon General; former Senator Tom Daschle who
was named to run the Department of Health and Human Services and oversee the overhaul of the nation’s broken health
care system; and New Mexico Governor and former presidential candidate Bill Richardson to the high post as Secretary of Commerce.
Obama choice for the Commerce Secretary slot, New Hampshire Senator Judd Cregg, also withdrew his nomination citing “irresolvable
has been much criticism of President Obama and his administration for failing to bring about much of the “change”
Mr. Obama promised during his hard-fought campaign for the nation’s top job. But in all fairness, a president working
without a full staff of people to help make and carry out such changes cannot be expected to work miracles.
no secret that Mr. Obama was all but sabotaged by the outgoing Bush Administration and left with a collapsing financial system,
two ongoing wars, a crumbling infrastructure and a bulging national debt to work with by the time he took office. He has since
found that efforts to win bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate have been stonewalled by a solid block of consistent
“no” votes by the Republicans and some “Blue Dog” Democrats.
in the Senate have succeeded in blocking the presidential appointments with incredible skill.
Task Force on Presidential Appointments found that the process of filling hundreds of key positions by appointment followed
by Senatorial confirmation has become such a politically twisted process it both discourages and demoralizes candidates. This
tends to turn away the best people for these jobs. They just do not care to have their good names and reputations dragged
through the mud for months.
potential candidates object to making extensive financial disclosures required of appointees. Others choose not to go through
the process for a job that pays less than the salaries they get in the private sector.
who surrender to the rigorous investigations and questioning by Senate subcommittees often give up out of sheer frustration
over the protracted process, the task force found.
process has been clearly shown to be broken, and consequently an obstruction to good functioning government. Yet since 1996,
nothing has been done to fix it. The nation has obviously suffered because of it.