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Bungle-mania: A D’OHbama Transition Progress Report

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 4, 2009 12:06 AM

Before I get to my syndicated column today, I must remind you of an unctuous, heavy-breathing piece written by New York Times columnist David Brooks on Nov. 21 of last year. Seems like eons ago. I blogged about the bordering-on-obscene column in a post titled “Ivy League ejaculations.” Here’s a bit of Brooks’ paean to The One :

Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law)…

… Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists. They typically served in the Clinton administration and then, like Cincinnatus, retreated to the comforts of private life — that is, if Cincinnatus had worked at Goldman Sachs, Williams & Connolly or the Brookings Institution. So many of them send their kids to Georgetown Day School, the posh leftish private school in D.C. that they’ll be able to hold White House staff meetings in the carpool line.

And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition…

Most of all, they are picking Washington insiders. Or to be more precise, they are picking the best of the Washington insiders.

Obama seems to have dispensed with the romantic and failed notion that you need inexperienced “fresh faces” to change things. After all, it was L.B.J. who passed the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, because he is so young, Obama is not bringing along an insular coterie of lifelong aides who depend upon him for their well-being.

As a result, the team he has announced so far is more impressive than any other in recent memory…

…Believe me, I’m trying not to join in the vast, heaving O-phoria now sweeping the coastal haute bourgeoisie. But the personnel decisions have been superb. The events of the past two weeks should be reassuring to anybody who feared that Obama would veer to the left or would suffer self-inflicted wounds because of his inexperience. He’s off to a start that nearly justifies the hype.

– Smarty pants/panting smarty David Brooks, NYT, 11/21/08

Ick. Clearing away the overflowing drool bucket. How do you like them apples now, Mr. Brooks? The “overeducated Achievatron” president is, by his own admission, a royal screw-up. And the hits keep coming. Stefan Sharkansky gives you the scoop on incompetent-o-crat Ron Sims, who’s up for the No. 2 job at HUD. Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis is clueless about the policies and regulations she would oversee. ObamaNoms.com has all the latest on other brewing problems.

The Associated Press, carrying water for their dear leader, tries to convince us that Obama has been “humbled.” Bah.

Actions speak louder than words.

***
All the president’s tax cheats
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

You never get a second chance to make a first post-inaugural impression. Less than three weeks into his first 100 days, Barack Obama has left an indelible mark on his nascent presidency: The mark of incompetence and hubris. Despite the administration’s much-touted wealth of bright minds and high bars, the transition has been a complete disaster.

In a double whammy on Tuesday, tax troubles and ethical clouds forced the withdrawal of not one, but two, high-profile Obama nominees. These come on the heels of former Commerce Secretary nominee Bill Richardson’s withdrawal due to a pay-for-play probe in New Mexico and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s “tax goofs” involving failure to pay $43,000 in federal self-employment taxes for four separate years – until, that is, he was nominated for his Obama post. Thorough vetting, it seems, is an inconvenient process – a pesky “distraction,” if you will — in the Land of Hope and Change.

Health and Human Services Secretary designee Tom Daschle finally bowed out after aggressive rehabilitative efforts failed. His chummy Senate pals on both sides of the aisle may have been willing to forgive his failures to pay longstanding back taxes owed on limo services, undisclosed consulting fees and dubious charitable donations worth an estimated $146,000, including interest and penalties. But the American people were not. (And an interesting postscript: He may have apologized and dropped out of the administration, but Daschle still owes Medicare taxes equal to 2.9 percent of the personal value of the car service he received from his crony Democrat donor Leo Hindery Jr.)

Just before the Daschle announcement came the withdrawal of Nancy Killifer. She was tapped to be President Obama’s “Chief Performance Officer” overseeing compliance, organizational effectiveness, and waste management across every federal agency. But the former Clinton Treasury official and head of the prestigious Washington office of management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Inc., couldn’t be bothered to manage her own household help effectively. She failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes and had an outstanding tax lien on her home. The lien was worth less than $1,000 – far less than the tax liability Treasury Secretary Geithner owed.

If I were a left-wing feminist, I’d be sorely tempted to whip out the gender card and give the Good Old Boys’ Club a few whacks. Killifer gets thrown under the bus, but Geithner gets to drive? No justice, no peace!

Now, compare President Bush’s transition track record in 2001. Remember the traditional 100-day period was shortened as a result of the election lawsuit. Wrote Paul Light of the left-leaning Brookings Institution at the time: “Bush gets an A on the transition into office. He survived his truncated 40-day transition with only one major mistake—Linda Chavez, who withdrew her nomination for Labor Secretary after the flap over allowing an illegal immigrant to stay in her house…Bush also deserves an A+ for the timely assembly of his White House team. Building around Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush White House is an MBA’s dream: efficient, predictable, well controlled, on time, under budget.”

During Tuesday’s press briefing, glib White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did his best to bat down a rising chorus of questions about his boss’s judgment – not only on the nomination “glitches,” but also on an ever-growing list of exemptions to Obama’s no-lobbyists pledge. Echoing Bill Clinton’s “most ethical administration ever” and Nancy Pelosi’s “most ethical House ever” mantras, Gibbs defensively asserted: “The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set.”

Then how, pray tell, did all the president’s tax cheats make it past the front door? And where’s Vice President Joe Biden to wag his finger at their lack of patriotism? Team Obama embraced these damaged candidates despite advanced knowledge of their lapses. Killifer’s tax lien was four years old. Questions about Daschle’s judgment have lingered for years. Ask GOP Sen. John Thune, who defeated Daschle the Dodger in 2004 after news broke of his bogus property-tax homestead exemption claim on his $1.9 million D.C. mansion – which he listed as his primary residence despite voting in South Dakota and claiming it as his primary residence in order to run for re-election.

The buck stops at the desk of Barack Obama. A little more of that humility and personal responsibility he spoke so much about during his inaugural address are now in order.

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