Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Anyone minding the store?

I've been very bored with politics and the news since the election. Pretty happy with the results of the election, mind you, but I don't really care about following all the rumors about who is going to be appointed to what position in the Obama administration. I'll judge the administration on it's policies once in office. But I have to admit to being a little disappointed by just how ordinary Obama's picks seem to be. Especially Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State, if that's going to happen.

During the primaries foreign policy seemed the one area where Obama really seemed more progressive than the other candidates. It will be a missed opportunity if the more conventional thinkers like Clinton and her followers fill up the diplomatic posts. The younger set of policy wonks who went out on a limb to support Obama early will be left out in the cold, and the folks Clinton advances into State will dominate the institution for another generation. Add to this the Bush administration burrowing in its political appointees into last-minute civil service posts, and the federal bureaucracy will be hobbled with unimaginative functionaries, or worse, people actively trying to thwart the business of government.

And while the pundits obsess over what every appointment (rumored or announced) will mean for the Obama presidency, the Bush administration in its last days is shoveling billions of dollars at the financial industry. It's a haphazard attempt to shore up crumbling sectors of the economy, which might be necessary. But it's being done in a very careless manner, and taxpayer obligations are pilling up hundreds of billions of dollars at a time, with very little accountability for past or future actions required from the bailout recipients. If only Congress could at least pretend to care.

1 comment:

christian_left said...

In my view, these two things--worrying about Obama's appointees and "minding the store"--are closely connected. As we shovel the money out the door to the financial industry, we are faced with the specter of continued rule under the Obama Administration from the same economic elites who are closely connected with the financial industry. So it would make little sense for top-level Democrats in Congress to object to the looting when their party's President is about to install people connected at high levels to the very same financial interests. In a sense, it almost seems to take the issue off the table. Now, of course, there are certain aspects of Bush's end of term looting, especially related to loosening of environmental regulations in the West and other such things, that are ripe for better push-back. But in the end, on too many crucial issues, we are finding ourselves once again having to take on a Wall Street Democratic Party at the same time that we decry the abuses of the GOP.

Just in case there are any readers of this blog out there who don't read The Nation regularly... My favorite writer who links together the transition and the financial industry bailot is Naomi Klein. But it's not just Klein. The Nation has really been pushing on this issue despite its inevitable stepping on the toes of starry-eyed Obama fans. My favorite economic columnist, William Greider has weighed in, as has Robert Scheer.