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partner in the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and the leading candidate for Deputy Treasury Secretary, has withdrawn from consideration.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.