Greatest Transition Ever strikes again

posted at 4:45 pm on March 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Barack Obama administration had yet another high-level appointment crash and burn today, again at Treasury, the third one in a week.  After losing Annette Nazareth to potential criticism of her regulation efforts at the SEC and Caroline Atkinson to more tax problems, H. Rodgin Cohen has now departed as the designee for Deputy Treasury Secretary.  George Stephanopolous reports:

Democratic sources say that H. Rodgin Cohen, a partner in the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and the leading candidate for Deputy Treasury Secretary, has withdrawn from consideration. …

Cohen had risen to the top after the withdrawal last week of expected deputy treasury secretary pick Annette Nazareth.

Nazareth was forced to withdraw from consideration for the deputy treasury slot because senators made it clear she would face tough questioning over her time at the Securities and Exchange Commission — tenure that overlapped with the agency’s failure to catch Bernie Madoff.

And the candidate for Undersecretary for International Affairs, Caroline Atkinson, was told she had to withdraw after a “tax problem” was revealed early in the vetting process, according to officials.

It’s actually getting worse; they’re dropping out before Obama has a chance to formalize the nominations.  That brings Treasury up to the grand total of one official appointment for its 18 senior, Senate-confirmation required positions.

Stephanopolous also reports that the White House has begun swinging back at critics who point out the serial failures to properly staff senior positions, especially at Treasury, where Obama has focused his policy efforts.  The administration believes they haven’t received credit for all of the directions they’ve pushed in such a short period of time.  Well, boo hoo.  All we heard during the campaign was that Obama would bring competence to the White House, and since November 5th have talked endlessly about how great their transition has been.  The media has, at least until now, merrily run with the nonsense about the Greatest Transition In Human History, all while the evidence screams otherwise: three Cabinet appointment failures, and staffing and vetting collapses by the day.

It’s the American Idol White House, only with nothing but William Hungs as far as the eye can see.

Update: Billy Hollis at QandO has the ultimate Photoshop for this topic — but be sure to go there to see it.


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The One doesn’t need no stinking cabinet. He can do it all!

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 12, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Any moment now, getalife will post something about how this is Bush’s fault.

Or something like that.

Conservative_SAHM on March 12, 2009 at 5:24 PM

You’ll smell diesel fuel and corndogs just before he posts.

AubieJon on March 12, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Gee, it must be taking longer than usual for Begala to get the talking points for this latest debacle out to the Kod Kidz-it’s been almost 45 minutes since this was posted, and total silence.

Enjoy it while it lasts, I’m sure this latest candidate pulling out was because of the evil Bush and nothing more.

Del Dolemonte on March 12, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 12, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Sadly his ego might actually think that.

txaggie on March 12, 2009 at 5:28 PM

they couldn’t meet President Barack Obama’s ethics standards or overcome other vetting issues.“

But Geithner Did? How bad are these nominees?

PappaMac on March 12, 2009 at 5:28 PM

Any moment now, getalife will post something about how this is Bush’s fault.

Or something like that.

Conservative_SAHM on March 12, 2009 at 5:24 PM

You beat me by 3 minutes. That’s Bush’s fault as well.

Del Dolemonte on March 12, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Rahm is going to chew of George’s ear on that phone call tomorrow morning… will Stephie find a dead fish on his doormat?

But with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner struggling to contain a national economic crisis and helming a department with vital staff positions unfilled — the latest withdrawal will give critics more ammunition.

Foreign Policy reported yesterday that Britain’s most senior civil servant, cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, claimed it was hard to find anyone to speak to at the US Treasury Department.

He blamed the “absolute madness” of the US system where a new administration had to hire new officials from scratch, leaving a decision-making vacuum.

“There is nobody there. You cannot believe how difficult it is,” he told a conference of civil servants.

– George Stephanopoulos

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 12, 2009 at 5:29 PM

You beat me by 3 minutes. That’s Bush’s fault as well.

Del Dolemonte on March 12, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Isn’t everything?

:)

Conservative_SAHM on March 12, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Come on guys, give Barry a break… It’s tough to find financial and economic professionals who can be team players in an administration with an agenda of Marxist-Leninism…

phreshone on March 12, 2009 at 5:30 PM

American electorate: “Give us Barrackus!”

whitetop on March 12, 2009 at 5:31 PM

Obama’s time in office is starting to look more and more like the Gong Show. If only we could give him the gong, then the hook.

Hey, it’s Thursday. So, where is the report on their Wednesday party? Is he hiding that now too? You can run but you can’t hide.

UnEasyRider on March 12, 2009 at 5:32 PM

In a righteous world Obama would admit that staffing this BIG givernment is too much work, making him tired, and he wishes the the federal government was smaller. John Boehner, speaks up and says, “I can help you with that.”

WashJeff on March 12, 2009 at 5:32 PM

Can the Obama lovers at least admit that this transition has been the silliest in history. Even George W. Bush, with all his alleged dumbness, did not nominate this many retards with bad histories. Admit it, and I’ll think a little higher of you.

Speedwagon82 on March 12, 2009 at 5:34 PM

So, where is the report on their Wednesday party?

UnEasyRider on March 12, 2009 at 5:32 PM

He got drunk last night and signed an executive order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.

WashJeff on March 12, 2009 at 5:34 PM

From UPDATE article, posted by AP in another thread:

Last week an administration official conceded to me that “it’s not easy to find qualified people who don’t have conflicts” adding that “dozens of candidates” across the government have been forced to pull out because they couldn’t meet President Barack Obama’s ethics standards or overcome other vetting issues.

Sorry. I had to post this again in a more relevant thread. It is just toooooooooo good to be true.

Obama has ethics and standards?

74SeventeenSeventySix on March 12, 2009 at 5:36 PM

You can’t make a comparison of Mr. Hung and a black man-Mr. Obama, that’s racist. Didn’t you get the memo?

eaglewingz08 on March 12, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Sorry. I had to post this again in a more relevant thread. It is just toooooooooo good to be true.

Obama has ethics and standards?

Yeah… if you have ethics or standards, you don’t get appointed.

teke184 on March 12, 2009 at 5:40 PM

Janos Hunyadi on March 12, 2009 at 5:01 PM

Good post! This is also why it’s so hard to get a solid conservative into Washington and keep them solid. Senator-Elect Rockribs arrives from deepest Red State America with bold plans for government reform, and a couple of years later he’s raking in lobbyist money and chatting about his earmark wish list with Harry Reid in the cloakroom. Corruption smells pretty sweet to those who enjoy its benefits, especially when they get to add a layer of sanctimony about how they’re “here to help.”

The endless Benny Hill skit of the Obama transition is one of the best illustrations of just how confused and useless Big Government is. How many companies could leave dozens of top management positions unfilled for months? How many CEOs could face a shareholder meeting after hiring a string of people who had to resign due to financial irregularities?

Besides running against the Obama culture of incompetence and corruption, Republicans could have a little fun with this during the 2010 election cycle. Propose dramatic tax reform, on the scale of a flat tax or the Fair Tax, with a slogan: “Tax laws so simple, even Obama Administration nominees can comply with them!” They could hire the GEICO caveman as a mascot.

The fun and games with Obama’s domestic nominees makes one wonder about how many security risks he’s plugged into the foreign policy apparatus. I have a feeling we’ll be finding out the hard way.

Doctor Zero on March 12, 2009 at 5:41 PM

ACORN promised me a unicorn. Where it at?!

BHO Jonestown on March 12, 2009 at 5:42 PM

Kudlow and Gasparino have been pushing this guy as “game changer” in a positive way. It will be interesting to hear their reaction tonight….

TheBigOldDog on March 12, 2009 at 5:43 PM

[phreshone on March 12, 2009 at 5:30 PM]

A good point, but it doesn’t explain the non-financial positions. The way I see it, Obama is the Entitlement President and the field he’s working to find appointments is plush with entitlement oriented people who have acted on that belief their during their careers, whether Richardson, Daschle, Geithner, …. Heck, Chas Freeman’s withdrawal diatribe is a waterfall of words, soaking wet with the sense of entitlement.

Dusty on March 12, 2009 at 5:43 PM

It’s actually getting worse; they’re dropping out before Obama has a chance to formalize the nominations.

Hilarious.

ddrintn on March 12, 2009 at 5:43 PM

“There is nobody there. You cannot believe how difficult it is,” he told a conference of civil servants.”

– George Stephanopoulos

Is everyone missing the major message of all of this?

Seems Democrats, and especially those Democrats with any sort of “expertise” are apparently, according to Stephanopoulos, all sleeze. No ethics at all, so it seems. Has been this way for years and years. Look at Mxie Waters, lobbying, as a member of Congress for OneUnited Bank…with her husband as its director? John F. Kerry campaigning against global warming and for funding for several think tanks…owned by his wife. Go through the list of major Democrats…how many could pass a basic security clearance investigation? Taxes? We don’t need to pay no stinkin’ taxes. Take public funds fro their own private use….Air Marshall Pelosi, being but one of them…not a big deal from their vantage point.

The best antiseptic is often sunlight… More like vampires, these Democrats.

The up side of all of this is maybe, just maybe, the longer no nominations are actually approved by Congress, the fewer people under Obama there are to screw up things even more.

coldwarrior on March 12, 2009 at 5:44 PM

Calling the resident lefties…

ddrintn on March 12, 2009 at 5:44 PM

Any moment now, getalife will post something about how this is Bush’s fault.

Or something like that.

Conservative_SAHM on March 12, 2009 at 5:24 PM

You’ll smell diesel fuel and corndogs just before he posts.

AubieJon on March 12, 2009 at 5:27 PM

It will be along after finishing the dinner dishes and homework. Mom had to go in early for the evening shift.

Yoop on March 12, 2009 at 5:47 PM

See winston at 4:52:

no one with a brain or a career would sign on with this team…and it’s getting worse

I need some historians to comfort me — can the country endure 4 years of amateur hour?

Mark30339 on March 12, 2009 at 5:51 PM

Flex, Michelle. Strike a pose. Show the brawny & tawdry guns of hope & change.

BHO Jonestown on March 12, 2009 at 5:51 PM

This is looking like Hogwarts School being unable to find a Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher.

I could give these clowns 10 names of people who could fill those Treasury jobs and would pass the vetting process.

They’re not trying, folks. They’re not trying.

rockmom on March 12, 2009 at 5:54 PM

You’ll smell diesel fuel and corndogs just before he posts.

AubieJon on March 12, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Niiiiice. LOL

capitalist piglet on March 12, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Kudlow and Gasparino have been pushing this guy as “game changer” in a positive way. It will be interesting to hear their reaction tonight….

TheBigOldDog on March 12, 2009 at 5:43 PM

So he was sane and competent, like Judd Gregg and Sanjay Gupta, right? It’s no wonder he withdrew from consideration then.

funky chicken on March 12, 2009 at 5:58 PM

So he was sane and competent, like Judd Gregg and Sanjay Gupta, right? It’s no wonder he withdrew from consideration then.

funky chicken on March 12, 2009 at 5:58 PM

LOL…it’s like, “Who wants to be first mate on the Titanic? Anyone?”

ddrintn on March 12, 2009 at 6:03 PM

It’s the American Idol White House, only with nothing but William Hungs as far as the eye can see.

Low blow, man. William Hungs had cajones. These idiots have none.

ladyingray on March 12, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Let’s be clear. Since November, Obama hasn’t been able to line up people a sufficient number of qualified people at Treasury, but he’s got all the time in the world to lay the groundwork for reinstating funding for foreign abortions, a nonsense health care summit, a nonsense fiscal-responsibility summit, starting a war with Limbaugh, tent revivals for his porkulus bill, and who knows what else.

Clearly, Obama’s priorities are not the country’s priorities. He’s incompetent.

BuckeyeSam on March 12, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Well, give him credit for his surge in fighting the war against Rush.

the_nile on March 12, 2009 at 6:05 PM

Clearly, Obama’s priorities are not the country’s priorities. He’s incompetent.

BuckeyeSam on March 12, 2009 at 6:04 PM

It’s all that valuable executive non-experience.

ddrintn on March 12, 2009 at 6:06 PM

most incompetant transition EVAH.

most incompetant administration EVAH.

most incompetant president EVAH.

notagool on March 12, 2009 at 6:06 PM

EVAH! EVAH!

Griz on March 12, 2009 at 6:14 PM

Hey wait a minute. Be fair. Isn’t this like his “first” setback or something?

ladyingray on March 12, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Someone should tell Obama that the FBI Most Wanted List is NOT a list of people they are trying to hire.

Michelle Dubois on March 12, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Stephanopolous also reports that the White House has begun swinging back at critics

Wake up George! This is not new.

At least he didn’t blame it on Bush.

BacaDog on March 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

It nevers ends.

Johan Klaus on March 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM

BuckeyeSam on March 12, 2009 at 6:04 PM

It’s Limbaugh’s fault. And, I guess that if they are going to sleep with dogs , they are going to get fleas.

Johan Klaus on March 12, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Another one bites the dust.

chunderroad on March 12, 2009 at 6:52 PM

It’s the American Idol White House

More like the Gong Show. The parody is so obvious, why isn’t it on You Tube yet? Oh, that’s right, the new head of the RNC is too busy acting out his own Gong Show.

edshepp on March 12, 2009 at 6:53 PM

I want him to fail.

chunderroad on March 12, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Yep, greatest BUNCH OF FOOLS, evah!

GarandFan on March 12, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Simon Cowell judges the American Idol Administration

(disregard the last comment, he was talking to Ryan about the previous night)

BrianA on March 12, 2009 at 7:03 PM

Seems that folks don’t want to get stink on themselves.

gooddad on March 12, 2009 at 7:04 PM

So how do all these failed nominations and ongoing vacancies stack up historically?

I know that the record for cabinet-level failures is 4, but what about the rest? And how long has it traditionally taken previous administrations to fill Treasury and other appointments?

token on March 12, 2009 at 7:10 PM

As long as we are starting a Photoshop contest……

Here is our entry.

Natalie on March 12, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Dick Gregory, 76, world famous activist, author, lecturer and comedian, appeared on the radio and television shows of Don Imus … this morning and made an historic announcement in connection with what he called “the inexcusable crisis of humanity in connection with the tragic state of the this country’s economy as a result of the past eight years of greed, arrogance and fear-mongering,” Gregory said.

Yep he won’t eat till it’s fixed.

http://imustimes.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/imus-dick-gregory-to-fast/

Dr Evil on March 12, 2009 at 7:24 PM

I can’t believe we lost to these dikwads, but then I remember we had John Bipartisan McCain as a nominee.

No more senators, please, Mr. Steele.
BTW, Please Mr. Steele, will you resign sooner than later?

luvstotango on March 12, 2009 at 7:29 PM

This is looking like Hogwarts School being unable to find a Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher.

Bwhahhahahahaha. Hilarious.

patriette on March 12, 2009 at 8:08 PM

Don’t know if it is the best transition but never seen a President start addressing so many problems in his first 50 days.

The villagers whine he is doing too much but he is just getting started.

And actually doing what he campained and won on is a great thing to watch in action.

getalife on March 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM

And actually doing what he campained and won on is a great thing to watch in action.

getalife on March 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Are you referring to the part about transparency or the part about earmarks?

patriette on March 12, 2009 at 8:20 PM

All this difficulty assembling a cabinet with no opposition in Congress. I gotta’ admit it — he is one capable chief executive.

Y-not on March 12, 2009 at 8:32 PM

74SeventeenSeventySix on March 12, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Same thing I died laughing over. O’s ethic standards? The same O that brought us a tax cheater as Secretary of the Treasury?

katablog.com on March 12, 2009 at 8:44 PM

This is getting serious. Time to shut down the WH bowling alley and movie theater and get to work….

TN Mom on March 12, 2009 at 8:46 PM

The villagers whine he is doing too much but he is just getting started.

And actually doing what he campained and won on is a great thing to watch in action.

getalife on March 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Yeah I loved those promises about legislation on line for 5 days before he signed it, no earmarks, no pork in the stimulus, a pig in every pot (oops, wrong president, just the one he wants to be).

The guy is in way over his head and only you who bow to him at every teleprompter speech keep him going. Though I hear he’s off for yet another vacation soon.

katablog.com on March 12, 2009 at 8:48 PM

getalife on March 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM: Sorry, forgot the promise about no lobbyists. Did you believe that one?

katablog.com on March 12, 2009 at 8:54 PM

And this is how many?

Oh right, all accountants are busy doing Sarbanes-Oxley on the “toxic ass-etts”. Failed appointments to reach ttimulus numbers.

Flying Betsy Ross

Caststeel on March 12, 2009 at 9:05 PM

It is actually getting much worse. The White House is being deluged with cards, letters and calls of people adding their names to the Presidential nominee do not call list.

moxie_neanderthal on March 12, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Honest.

Competent

Democrat

Pick any two. (But the last one counts as two.)

njcommuter on March 12, 2009 at 9:28 PM

You beat me by 3 minutes. That’s Bush’s fault as well.

Del Dolemonte on March 12, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Sunrise tomorrow at 6:32 am. Bush denies involvement.

BobMbx on March 12, 2009 at 10:44 PM

They’re not trying, folks. They’re not trying.

rockmom on March 12, 2009 at 5:54 PM

This is exactly right, Folks. Look at the “Technology Guru” nominee they have at the white house (Lower case intended). Couldn’t pick a NASA Guy or a senior guy at Intel or Microsoft? Instead they get a hack GW nutcase who even other scientists lean away from in the elevator. My God. This guy is supposed to the the President of the United States!

This is not lack of competency, this is planned failure.

GunRunner on March 12, 2009 at 10:45 PM

From what I’ve been reading, Cohen is really good. Perhaps the administration had to sacrifice the obligatory Jew to balance out their latest under-bus anti-semite.

Immolate on March 12, 2009 at 10:50 PM

Just wanted to drop my 2 cents (before Obama tries to spend it for me)… I love the picture. He looks like the RCA dog listening for a clue.

RalphyBoy on March 13, 2009 at 12:21 AM

Cohen…Nazareth…

Neither the Priest nor the Nazarene can serve The One (whose shoe’s latchet they are not worthy to unloose).

Tzetzes on March 13, 2009 at 2:29 AM

most incompetant transition EVAH.

most incompetant administration EVAH.

most incompetant president EVAH.

notagool on March 12, 2009 at 6:06 PM

.
With the possible exception of Caligula who appointed his horse Inciatus, to the Roman Senate, worst leader EVAH.
.

Low blow, man. William Hung had cajones. These idiots have none.
ladyingray on March 12, 2009 at 6:03 PM

.
William Hung seemed to understand that he sucked, but that people seemed to like it. Obama seems to think he’s a great statesman.
.

86 nominees under the bus
.
BobMbx on March 12, 2009 at 5:03 PM

.
Maybe it’s his road improvement plan blood is a hell of a binding agent.

darktood on March 13, 2009 at 4:55 AM

getalife on March 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM: Sorry, forgot the promise about no lobbyists. Did you believe that one?

katablog.com on March 12, 2009 at 8:54 PM

What about his stand on signing statements? I bet you cheered when he said they were baaaaaaaddddddddddddd….

ladyingray on March 13, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Dr Evil on March 12, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Lets throw the Movi-prep mix in there with the fasting.

becki51758 on March 13, 2009 at 9:41 AM

patriette on March 12, 2009 at 8:20 PM

Then there was his promises to change all of Bush’s policies concerning the War on Terror.

becki51758 on March 13, 2009 at 9:44 AM

He blamed the “absolute madness” of the US system where a new administration had to hire new officials from scratch, leaving a decision-making vacuum.

“There is nobody there. You cannot believe how difficult it is,” he told a conference of civil servants.

– George Stephanopoulos

How sad is it in the political process, that the people who the then Senate has confirmed need to leave when a new administration comes in; and the process has to start all over. How can we revise this process and improve this system? This would have been very helpful RIGHT NOW as we do not know when the right people will be found (I mean appointed).

OneConservative on March 13, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Such an epic failure! F-You to all of those that voted for this Socialist POS and Liar-In-Chief, you ALL suck and are stupid morons… Actualy that gives you way too much credit!

Mark Garnett on March 13, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Ready on Day One. Is it Day One yet?

Maybe he needs a do-over and we start calling him President Mulligan

billypaintbrush on March 13, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Seriously, what is the problem. I’m toast with the articles about how this is so “awful.”

What I want is why?

This is nuts.

AnninCA on March 13, 2009 at 3:12 PM

They don’t really have an ideology as such: their mantra is simply More Government. More Government means more money and power for its leaders

The trolls here and flunkies in the media and elsewhere can’t or won’t see this crucial reality, and seem to be driven by their personal problems towards attacking anyone who opposes The Party.

We shouldn’t be chatting or negotiating with these people; we should be defeating them in elections.

Janos Hunyadi on March 12, 2009 at 5:01 PM

And the Republicans are nearly as bad, Janos. Term limits may be part of the answer, loathe though I am to limit voters choices. No reason not to return a good person to congress. Just think there are only a handful of those.

My standard cocktail party response was always “the Dem’s piss away more than the Rep.’s steal”. As I have become older and wiser, my new one is “both parties are so corrupt that if a politician was standing in front of me at this party, y’all would be witnessing an assualt, battery, maybe more, and I would be smiling all the way to jail.”

riverrat10k on March 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM

The answer to the question regarding appointments is quite simple.
In Australia we have a Public Service with permanent heads of departments. Some of these appointments are political, but they are professional public servants doing their job (most of the time – I certainly think that there has been one person who played politics before our last election – someone at the Reserve Bank who raised interest rates in an election year).

When the parties go to the polls the leader of the party with the majority becomes the Prime Minister. He elects his cabinet from the other elected officials in the parliament. Thus we have a Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Defence etc. etc.

The American system is extremely complex. It is not a real democracy in that the President appoints these people to do these same roles. People like Clinton the SOS are not elected to carry out those duties. Mind that role is more like an ambassador but it is similar to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The British system works in a similar way. When Tony Blair retired from politics Gordon Brown was nominated by his party to take Blair’s place. Brown is an elected official who holds a seat in the House of Representatives. The House of Lords is different because peers are nominated for life, yet they have obvious Labour etc. peers.

maggieo on March 13, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Maybe these appointment fiascos are a blessing in disguise — the de facto shrinking of government due to a lack of minions to carry out its orders. When consrvatives come back into power — and, yes, I said “when,” not “if” — they will be able to point to the fact that we got along perfectly well in the Obama administration without such vital functionaries as an Assistant Deputy Under-Secretary for Thinking up Things to Put on Those Dumb Dollar Coins as a reason for eliminating these positions. In the meantime, my tax dollars don’t have to go to pay any salaries to these worthless bozos.

bulgaroctonus on March 14, 2009 at 10:02 AM

Comment pages: 1 2