This goes to a chronic problem for Obama and his team — they’re a lot better at campaigning than at actual governing. They can build successful organizations for winning elections and raising money, but they can’t figure out how to organize staffing decisions so that they don’t run into the Diversity Police after it. Obama can rile up class-warfare passions to push for Buffett Rule tax hikes, but can’t write a budget that can gain a single vote in a chamber his own party controls … two years in a row.
With that in mind, should we be surprised that his second-term Cabinet rollout has produced embarrassment and backtracking? Let’s not forget that his first Cabinet rollout produced the same kind of disorganization when it became clear that no one was vetting potential nominees, or at least not vetting them successfully.
Ed links to items from Chuck Todd and other MSNBCers, and Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, but as John Nolte writes at Big Journalism, it’s all just kabuki theater from an otherwise bored media during a slow news cycle:
It’s all theatre. Through this growing, coordinated criticism, the media is deliberately pushing the idea that identity politics is a virtue above and beyond one’s qualifications. And that’s their only opposition to these nominees: gender and skin color (remember when such a thing was called “discrimination?”). And yet, the media refuses to oppose the likes of a Chuck Hagel over his record and statements surrounding Israel and Iran. Good heavens, the media can’t even bring itself to criticize Hagel for his opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest– something any other Republican would be vilified for.
As we saw the moment Obama stepped onto the national stage, no matter what — no matter how big the deficit, how high the unemployment, how few the jobs, how big the lie surrounding Libya, or how generic the cabinet — the media will never-ever-ever make Obama pay a political price for anything.
And then there’s Charlie Rangel, who proports to find the Obama administration’s lack of”diversity” (as defined by gender and lack of pigmentation, not ideas or ideology) to be “embarrassing as hell:”
The longtime Democratic House member from New York, whose district includes Harlem, made the comments in an interview on MSNBC. Obama has announced a series of high-profile cabinet nominations in recent days, all of who have been white men.
“It’s embarrassing as hell,” Rangel said. ”You have to do these things because it’s the right thing to do as a symbol of what America stands for.”
As Ed Morrissey writes, “When you’ve managed to embarrass the shameless, you’ve really accomplished something,” Charlie’s snipe at Obama could be a bit of payback for Mr. Obama attempting to force the corrupt, elderly congressman into retirement early in the president’s first term during this knife-in-the-back moment:
“I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served– his constituents very well. But these– allegations are very troubling,” Obama told Harry Smith in an interview to be aired on the “Early Show.” and first broadcast on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
“And he’ll– he’s somebody who’s at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I’m sure that– what he wants is to be able to– end his career with dignity. And my hope is that– it happens. “
But again, this is all just kabuki for a slow news day. (Anybody remember any of the news from early January of 2009?) As with Ed Koch and Alan Dershowitz, Rangel stood firmly by Obama as good little apparatchiks when it counted in the summer and fall of 2012.
Here’s to you, real Congressman of Genius.
Update: As I said, it’s all about gender and pigment, not diversity of ideas and viewpoints: “Melissa Harris Perry On Cabinet Diversity: Clarence Thomas Doesn’t Represent Blacks.”
As Chris Matthews would say, that kind of racialist thinking reminds me of the 1930s in another country.