So much for the Greatest Transition EvahTM

posted at 7:54 am on February 4, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Ever since the election, the media has tried to convince us that Barack Obama’s transition effort was unparalleled in history.  They heaped praise on him for having picked his Cabinet before his inauguration, as if that had never happened before, and for setting a clear path for their confirmations, as though a Democratic Senate would create much of a hurdle.  Since the inauguration, though, a series of errors ranging from technological (e-mail and phone systems) to key personnel have grabbed headlines and shown Barack Obama as a bumbler in his honeymoon period.

Will the media quit fawning over Obama now?  At least they’re starting to notice:

President Obama acknowledged yesterday that he had “made a mistake” in trying to exempt some candidates for positions in his administration from strict ethics standards and accepted the withdrawal of two top nominees, including former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle, in the first major setback of his young presidency.

Obama officials had sought a seamless transition, nominating most of his Cabinet at record pace and taking office ready to implement a raft of new policies. His reversal yesterday suggested that speed may have come at a cost, and that Obama, despite the overwhelming popularity he had upon taking office and the major challenges facing the nation, will not be spared from the same kind of scrutiny his predecessors have faced.

In jettisoning one of his closest and earliest political allies, the president appeared eager to make a course correction after days of criticism that his administration was not abiding by its own stated ethical standards and questions about his ability to bring change to the capital.

“Did I screw up in this situation? Absolutely. I’m willing to take my lumps,” Obama told NBC’s Brian Williams, one of five interviews he gave yesterday afternoon. Obama told the network anchors that there are “not two sets of rules” for people, and said that average taxpayers deserve to have public officials who pay their taxes on time.

Daschle’s exit from consideration to lead the Department of Health and Human Services after a firestorm over his failure to pay $146,000 in taxes on time came as a shock to the president’s supporters in Washington. Just a day earlier, Obama had pledged his full support for the former Democratic Senate leader who was widely expected to be confirmed. And just hours before Daschle bowed out, Nancy Killefer, Obama’s nominee for the newly created position of chief performance officer, also stepped aside because of a tax problem.

A few in the blogosphere seemed strangely cheered that Obama admitted he made a mistake, but Obama didn’t have much choice.  In two weeks, he nominated two people to Cabinet positions who turned out to be major tax evaders, and a third tax evader who was supposed to measure performance in the federal government.  Most transitions feel embarrassed by one high-profile withdrawal, but Obama’s had three: Daschle, Killefer, and Bill Richardson, who had to leave before being confirmed because of his involvement in a pay-for-play scandal in New Mexico.

Clearly, the Obama transition team doesn’t do its homework.  The tax problems of all three, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, should have been caught months ago, especially for a transition team and effort as highly praised as this one.  The investigation into Bill Richardson came to light last August.  Didn’t anyone bother to even Google these candidates?  Worse, even after the tax problems came to light, Obama acted as if it meant nothing until it became obvious that he was the only person in the country who didn’t understand how it looked to put tax cheats in charge of major federal bureaucracies.

And how do we know that the rest of Obama’s appointments are clean?  After all, Obama promised a new era of government free of conflicts of interest, and then in two weeks appointed at least 13 lobbyists to key positions within his administration, including Daschle, who avoided registering as one.  After months of demonizing lobbyists, Obama has quickly found ways to jump into bed with them, compounding the optics of cheerleading for tax cheats.

Now Obama looks weak and inexperienced, flailing at his first executive position in government — just as many of us predicted he would do during the campaign.  The media never bothered to ask the tough questions about his lack of experience and instead extolled his coolness and his competence.  Maybe now they’ll at least drop the Greatest Transition Ever meme and start reporting on what a train wreck it became.

Update: Rick Moran agrees — this isn’t fatal to the Obama presidency (yet), but it’s a train wreck of a transition.


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He truly believed that he could get this stimulus and his cabinet picks through b/c of his supposed “mandate” to lead. His arrogance made him believe that his popularity would make the vote unanimous! How could any Republicans dare to vote against it or his nominees when he is sssooooo popular?

I truly believe that HE is having buyers remorse. He is not ready to lead and now he knows it just two weeks in. God help us all. We’re all gonna die!

“The only thing more dangerous than ignorance, is arrogance.” — Einstien

JAM on February 4, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Guess all that “executive experience” is starting to show, and it’s only week 2.

GarandFan on February 4, 2009 at 11:50 AM

Will the media quit fawning over Obama now? At least they’re starting to notice

I have to say that the parts of the presser with Gibbs yesterday (who, incidentally, really does make McClellan look authoritative and honest, by comparison) were encouraging. A number of reporters from several outlets (I didn’t catch which ones, unfortunately, but they were not all Fox News) were trying to get him to provide straight answers to their questions about how these vetting failures occurred and what steps, if any, the administration was planning on taking to avoid them in the future. Gibbs did a lousy job. What I don’t know is how much of this is permeating to the evening news on broadcast television, so I’m not sure how much damage has been done to the One’s image.

Now Obama looks weak and inexperienced, flailing at his first executive position in government — just as many of us predicted he would do during the campaign.

He epitomizes what you’d expect to see happen from a guy who was carried from local machine-style politics to the international stage in a couple of years — completely out of his depth and unseasoned. Even if I were in favor of his political agenda, I would not have wanted this guy to be POTUS. He’s simply not seasoned enough. Heck, Ralph Nader would have made a better president than this guy.

Y-not on February 4, 2009 at 12:04 PM

I heard that Daschle was audited by IRS in 2006, and they found nothing in error. If so, did Daschle get a pass from Dhimmi’s at IRS? Is that even possible?

And when will Daschle,et al, be paying their fines, penalties, and interest charges as we serfs would be required to do for “forgetting”?

oldleprechaun on February 4, 2009 at 12:30 PM

But were any of them gun owners?

JamesB on February 4, 2009 at 12:42 PM

I dont know about anyone else, but I’d like to know why every press briefing Gibb’s has is televised on Fox?

The same reason children burn ants with a magnifying glass.

Jim Treacher on February 4, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Maybe the world, not just the cult supporters in the US, will begin to realize that the office of POTUS may now be inhabited by a bumbling, totally inexperienced, fool. In addition to that said office holder continues in his attempts to surround himself with a less-than-desirable staff.

Everyone needs to quickly understand that this is not just a source of I-told-you-so entertainment, or just a threat to the safety of the US, but may be the most dangerous of situations considering the world’s present political climate. Expect our enemies to quicky take advantage of the situation, from many directions, in quick succession. Dangerous, very dangerous.

Yoop on February 4, 2009 at 8:58 AM

quoted for it’s importance…

ladyingray on February 4, 2009 at 1:13 PM

The real question in this vein is who decided to blow off these indiscretions and pursue the nomination anyway. Was it Mr. “I won” that decided (after characteristically listening to the transition team’s recommendations) or was the team populated with a bunch of sycophantic ‘yes’ men?
Dusty on February 4, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Hard to say. I suspect that Oslime-a simply thought he would be treated as he was during the campaign when the media turned a blind eye to his true character and associations.

The honeymoon is over and I hope that POS is excoriated for every mistake he makes. The country needs the guy who played race politics and won to be destroyed.

csdeven on February 4, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Can he learn the job faster then its burdens overwhelms him? Our future depends on the answer to this question.

jerryofva on February 4, 2009 at 8:43 AM

I suspect not. From what I’ve seen of Obama it’s not that he doesn’t know, it’s that he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. That attitude does not leave much room for improvement.

PackerBronco on February 4, 2009 at 2:09 PM

“Did I screw up in this situation? Absolutely.

When Donald Rumsfeld answered a question by rephrasing it first, the press mocked him for it. When will they extend this favor to The One?

njcommuter on February 4, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Yes, His transition is indeed unparalleled, in it’s (jaw-dropping) ineptitude. The folks who didn’t vote for him are not slack-jawed; maybe some of his sycophants have wired their jaws shut after 5 exec orders.

Christine on February 4, 2009 at 2:16 PM

I heard that Daschle was audited by IRS in 2006, and they found nothing in error. If so, did Daschle get a pass from Dhimmi’s at IRS? Is that even possible?

And when will Daschle,et al, be paying their fines, penalties, and interest charges as we serfs would be required to do for “forgetting”?

The story on the IRS audit is that Daschole “forgot” to tell the IRS about the car and driver benefits, which would have caused the audit to find something requiring significant penalties and interest.

teke184 on February 4, 2009 at 3:41 PM

The story on the IRS audit is that Daschole “forgot” to tell the IRS about the car and driver benefits, which would have caused the audit to find something requiring significant penalties and interest.

teke184 on February 4, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Exactly, commonly called tax evasion, and often has a jail sentence attached.
Somehow, a brilliant man, one who helped write the tax code, did not understand that an expensive automobile and chauffeur, given to him was not taxable…inconceivable.

right2bright on February 4, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Guess all that “executive experience” is starting to show, and it’s only week 2.

GarandFan on February 4, 2009 at 11:50 AM

Indeed. Obama’s still running a campaign.

drjohn on February 4, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Barry is so far over his head with all this. The ugly part will be watching him go down for the third time. The MSM will be tossing out the life rafts to no avail and chaos will reign. The dummies who voted for him will be the first to be hurt. The bad part is we will all suffer for their stupidity. What a train wreck this guy is.

UnEasyRider on February 4, 2009 at 4:33 PM

I may be in the minority but I do not attribute Obama’s perceived inexperience for the pitfalls exhibited over the last 2 weeks in his administration. What I do attribute it to simply is Obama’s arrogance and his belief that the MSM would whitewash anything Obama proposes or does, even if he falls off the rails.

I guess even the MSM has to establish meager credibility once in a while.

technopeasant on February 4, 2009 at 4:55 PM

“The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”
Joe Biden 2008
The only sensible thing that’s ever come out of his mouth.

Fortunata on February 4, 2009 at 4:57 PM

I dont know about anyone else, but I’d like to know why every press briefing Gibb’s has is televised on Fox?

Because “Red Eye” is on at 3am, and we need something to laugh at in the middle of the afternoon.

NCJeff on February 4, 2009 at 5:23 PM

And how do we know that the rest of Obama’s appointments are clean? After all, Obama promised a new era of government free of conflicts of interest, and then in two weeks appointed at least 13 lobbyists to key positions within his administration, including Daschle, who avoided registering as one. After months of demonizing lobbyists, Obama has quickly found ways to jump into bed with them, compounding the optics of cheerleading for tax cheats.

Most interesting thing I heard today was that General Zinni- golden boy of the anti-war crowd has withdrawn his nomination in the Obama administration. He was part of what was supposed to give the filthy bastard “gravitas” in areas where he is ill-prepared to run the nation.

I’m curious whether Zinni (as ambitious and opportunistic as any Democrat liberal) dropped out because of tax problems or because he sees that his own luster as the soldier/statesman would be tainted by any association with this particular administration.

highhopes on February 4, 2009 at 5:33 PM

I may be in the minority but I do not attribute Obama’s perceived inexperience for the pitfalls exhibited over the last 2 weeks in his administration. What I do attribute it to simply is Obama’s arrogance and his belief that the MSM would whitewash anything Obama proposes or does, even if he falls off the rails.

I guess even the MSM has to establish meager credibility once in a while.

technopeasant on February 4, 2009 at 4:55 PM

I think it’s a combination of both.

Obama’s inexperience shows through in the way his vetting process of nominees failed to capture all these tax cheats and the way his public statements tend to be reversed in quiet. He made campaign promises to throw the lobbyists out of the temple and has quickly found that you simply can’t swing a dead cat around in DC without hitting a registered lobbyist. He declared transparency but has quickly found that the press has a far different idea about transparency than he does.

Nevertheless there is also arrogance that Obama seems to believe his own press. Considering the way the MSM has propped up his political career from the beginning, there is some history to support the filthy bastard’s assumption that the press is on his side. Furthermore, he is running around acting like he was elected in a mandate landslide. He was not. He’s acting like majority in Congress for the rats equates to not having to listen to the American people- almost half of which did not vote for the man.

On top of inexperience and arrogance, I’d add a third element. Immaturity. Obama likes the trappings of office and likes being “the President.” That doesn’t mean he is emotionally mature enough to lead. His temper tantrums are getting more frequent and more public.

highhopes on February 4, 2009 at 5:44 PM

One of the observations that I made the other day while driving is how few Obama bumper stickers there are. The Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers clung on for many bitter years.

Are Obama voters becoming reluctant to admit the error of their ways? Have they become able to distinguish sh*t from Shinola®?
onlineanalyst on February 4, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Not sure what state you live in, but here in good ol’ California, I see tons of Obama bumper stickers. I always feel like yelling, “the elections over”!! If McCain/Palin won, I don’t think I would rub that in the Obama supporters’ faces by keeping my bumper sticker on my car.

Callie C. on February 4, 2009 at 5:49 PM

On top of inexperience and arrogance, I’d add a third element. Immaturity. Obama likes the trappings of office and likes being “the President.” That doesn’t mean he is emotionally mature enough to lead. His temper tantrums are getting more frequent and more public.

highhopes on February 4, 2009 at 5:44 PM

Very well put!

Kevin in Southern Illinois on February 4, 2009 at 5:52 PM

highhopes on February 4, 2009 at 5:44 PM

Seriously true. I hate to to think what this jerk will do when he’s under real pressure, you know, like a sudden war in the Middle East or a terrorist attack or some thing. Crumple like the empty suit he is, or rail in Hitlerian terms about “betrayal”?

Fortunata on February 4, 2009 at 6:30 PM

I may be in the minority but I do not attribute Obama’s perceived inexperience for the pitfalls exhibited over the last 2 weeks in his administration. What I do attribute it to simply is Obama’s arrogance and his belief that the MSM would whitewash anything Obama proposes or does, even if he falls off the rails.

I guess even the MSM has to establish meager credibility once in a while.

technopeasant on February 4, 2009 at 4:55 PM

I agree, and I’d like to add that his malignant narcissism allows him to believe that if HE makes the decision, if HE says the words, everything will be OK; His public can’t help but adore him. He is sooooo in over his head

anniekc on February 4, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Not sure what state you live in, but here in good ol’ California, I see tons of Obama bumper stickers.

That’s a good thing- we need to be able to identify the idiots who got us into this mess. I am too small a person to not want to personally thank these fools for voting an imbecile into office.

anniekc on February 4, 2009 at 6:46 PM

That’s a good thing- we need to be able to identify the idiots who got us into this mess.
anniekc on February 4, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Yet another reason why it would be nice if Obama released his donor records.

Or had bothered to keep any.

Y-not on February 4, 2009 at 7:05 PM

What a jerk wad! This guy is the President, right?

No, wait. He is the Democratic incarnation of George Bush.

Are only frat boys allowed to be President now?

Stepan on February 4, 2009 at 8:39 PM

He truly believed that he could get this stimulus and his cabinet picks through b/c of his supposed “mandate” to lead.

Today he referenced how people had ‘voted for change’ to justify some particular action of his; don’t remember if it was related to the stimulus or to executive compensation. He sounded very arrogant (again)

Red State State of Mind on February 4, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Not sure what state you live in, but here in good ol’ California, I see tons of Obama bumper stickers. I always feel like yelling, “the elections over”!! If McCain/Palin won, I don’t think I would rub that in the Obama supporters’ faces by keeping my bumper sticker on my car.

Callie C. on February 4, 2009 at 5:49 PM

Pfffft. Don’t worry too much about that. I sometimes still see Kerry-Edwards and Bush-Cheney stickers. Some people probably just don’t know how to get them off. :D

ddrintn on February 4, 2009 at 10:00 PM

I hate to to think what this jerk will do when he’s under real pressure, you know, like a sudden war in the Middle East or a terrorist attack or some thing. Crumple like the empty suit he is, or rail in Hitlerian terms about “betrayal”?

Fortunata on February 4, 2009 at 6:30 PM

You don’t have to imagine. Just look at New Orleans and the corrupt mayor down there. C. Ray Nagin was the perfect mayor pre-Katrina. A party till dawn genial host for a city which relies on tourism. The institutional corruption after years of liberal programs was so rife the mayor literally just had to show up as a public figurehead at events like Mardi Gras. The previous mayor’s family was robbing the city through kickbacks from those doing business with the (failed) public schoold system. The Congressman was stuffing almost 100K of the FBI’s money in his freezer but so long as the party continued, nobody cared.

Then came a real crisis. Hurricane Katrina. Ray Nagin cowered in a suite on the 23rd floor of the Hyatt while people were being pulled from the roofs of their homes and thousands were suffering at the Superdome and convention center.

This is a glimpse of the Obama administration. The filthy bastard makes a great story but he’s going to be cowering come the first real challenge to his administration. He won’t provide the reassurance to the nation that GWB gave following the atrocities of 9/11/01. Nor is he or the people he has surrounded himself equipped to deal with real crisis. They won’t know what to do. It really is that obvious.

highhopes on February 4, 2009 at 10:08 PM

sometimes still see Kerry-Edwards and Bush-Cheney stickers. Some people probably just don’t know how to get them off. :D

ddrintn on February 4, 2009 at 10:00 PM

I’ve always wanted to meet one of these people that still have a Kerry-Edwards sticker on their car to find out how that’s working out for them!

At this point I want to know how many more weeks it will be before the “Don’t blame me I didn’t vote for Obama” stickers appear.

highhopes on February 4, 2009 at 10:12 PM

Remember paying taxes is patriotic!

johnnyU on February 4, 2009 at 10:25 PM

barack obama doesnt have the balls to even ask the most general questions..

since he is a liberal activist laywer

all he cares about is
a. do you go to church (and man if it aint jeremiah wrights) you gonna fry..

b. have you ever even touched a gun (liberals are allergic to touching them) it makes their skin burn..

c. have you ever fought against the enemies of the united states (if so that means you actually still care about america and therefore are disqualified).

jcila on February 4, 2009 at 10:30 PM

Can you imagine if Gov Palin were elected Potus and made even ONE of the mistakes barryo made???

In the case of Palin, we’d be hearing : Inept, incompetent, Inexperienced, not ready to lead etc.

In the case of Barryo, we hear how noble he was because he said he screwed up.

This is going to be a Loooooonnnnng four years, IF we make it through it.

bullseye on February 4, 2009 at 11:17 PM

This is going to be a Loooooonnnnng four years, IF we make it through it.

bullseye on February 4, 2009 at 11:17 PM

Heh…yeah, I smell chaos in the making.

ddrintn on February 4, 2009 at 11:23 PM

This is like watching a drunk drive.

RalphyBoy on February 5, 2009 at 4:59 AM

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