Sunday, November 30, 2008


According to Obama transition team sources, President-elect Obama will announce his defense team on Monday. While he claims to like the element of surprise, his team has consistently leaked the appointments he was about to announce weeks in advance, and his defense team is no different. Press officials have leaked the name of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, along with the appointment of Jim Jones as National Security Advisor and the continued service of Republican Robert Gates as Secretary of the Defense.
And while on the surface, these names indicate a strong desire on the President elect to appoint the most experienced and intelligent officials he can find for his "dream" cabinet team, his proposed picks for his security team so far, without an appointment for CIA Director, seems to be in direct conflict with the Barack Obama foreign policy platform that vaulted him to the nomination.
Consistent throughout his campaign, and campaign stump speeches, was his insistence that he was the only one in Washington with a pulse to be against the Iraqi invasion. he frequently called the invasion a "strategic blunder." Yet, when choosing his Vice Presidential pick, and apparently his Secretary of State nomination, he has chosen two people who voted FOR the authorizing of the war, which is curious at best. Especially disconcerting is his apparent fondness for Hillary, the target of many foreign affairs debates in an attempt to illustrate their marked differences.
He also denounced her for voting in favor of a Senate resolution branding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. During the primary campaign, Clinton declared that the US would "obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel. Now Obama is considering placing her at the head of US diplomacy. Very curious, indeed. Did he in fact, protest too much, during the campaign? Did a clearer picture of his true foreign policy stance show itself when he vowed to bomb Afghanistan if they had a fix on the location of Bin Laden?
Did his campaign platforms truly represent the measure of the man, or the result of a staged and carefully measured set of positions guaranteeing victory? On one hand, of the votes he did cast as a one term Senator, he primarily voted the party ticket, taking the most liberal positions available to him at the time. As a Chicago representative, he was known to vote "present" on many issues, including one he sponsored himself, creating an incomplete voting record, at best.
As hopeful, optimistic and excited the nation is over the potential of an Obama administration, I do have qualms over what little we do know about his true positions on everything, especially concerning foreign affairs, with an emphasis on his positions involving the Middle East, the Muslim world, and terrorist radical Islam.
While I liked his positions in the primary season (although far preferring Clinton), he seems to have hop scotched to the center after getting elected. His opposition of the war in Iraq is somewhat negated by his picks of Biden and Clinton, and certainly placed in question with his choice to continue the employment of the Bush Defense Secretary. These are not the moves of someone wishing a foreign policy change, not withstanding his public assertions that he will provide the change visions to all cabinet members, and his willingness to talk to any foreign leader with the complete absence of pre-conditions.
Am I getting Obama "cold feet," or buyers remorse over a candidate who we know so little about. We can't even say to a certainty that he is a native born American, if you believe the conservative conspiracy theorists, led by Alan Keyes, himself a very intelligent, if slightly radical, former U.S. Ambassador.
With such a thin previous voting record Obama with the help of David Axlerod, could have simply created a personality and persona for this man to curry favor with the voting public. If true, we have to acknowledge that we have absolutely no idea where he honestly stands on any issue. Now we have no recourse but to get occasional glimpses of the true man one snippet at a time.
As a loyal Clinton supporter, I whole heartedly supported the nomination of Hillary to which ever post or position that she desired, and it seemed to be SOS. Now having second thoughts, I almost wish she had distanced herself from the Obama cabinet, and accepted what is being reported as offered to her previously, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as powerful a Senate assignment as there is. Yes, this would have been a huge slight to the much senior Hawaiian Senator, Daniel Inouye, but the political power play would have effectively put her in charge of the nations purse strings. And of all of the congressional challenges thay lay ahead of them, spending less would be the easiest task to pull off, especially since the bailouts will have been effectively spent before her watch over the budget.
And that lofty position, arguably the most powerful in the Senate, would certainly be enough for even the most needy ego, and not demand the release of husband Bill's financial history, and foreign relationships, which may prove to be a political nightmare in and of itself.
But then the course of least resistence has never been a forte of the Clinton family, has it?


Papa Giorgio said...

Damn that Constitution! First Obama's birth and now...

Barack Obama, it has been reported, intends to announce Sen. Hillary Clinton as his choice for secretary of state, an appointment America's Founding Fathers forbade in the U.S. Constitution.

The constitutional quandary arises from a clause that forbids members of the Senate from being appointed to civil office, such as the secretary of state, if the "emoluments," or salary and benefits, of the office were increased during the senator's term.

The second clause of Article 1, Section 6, of the Constitution reads, "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office."

During Hillary Clinton's current term in the Senate, the salary for Cabinet officers was increased from $186,600 to $191,300. Since the salary is scheduled to again be raised in January 2009, not only Hillary Clinton, but all sitting Senate members could be considered constitutionally ineligible to serve in Obama's Cabinet.

... Drat!

Papa Giorgio said...


In 1973, President Richard Nixon was able to appoint Sen. William B. Saxbe as his Attorney General, despite the fact the Saxbe was part of a Senate that nearly doubled Cabinet pay 1969, by convincing Congress to reduce Saxbe's pay as Attorney General to its pre-1969 levels.

The sidestep, since known as the "Saxbe fix," was also used by President Taft in 1909, President Carter and President George H. W. Bush, who actually implemented the fix to enable Sen. Lloyd Bentsen to serve as treasury secretary for President Clinton's incoming administration.

The so-called "fix," however, has been criticized as perhaps honoring the spirit of the law, but nonetheless violating a clearly written statute of the Constitution.

In the 1973 case, the Washington Post reports, 10 senators, all Democrats, voted against Saxbe's appointment on constitutional grounds. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the only one of them who remains in the Senate, said at the time that the Constitution was explicit and "we should not delude the American people into thinking a way can be found around the constitutional obstacle."

"The content of the rule here is broader than its purpose," Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen, a constitutional law expert at St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, told MSNBC. "And the rule is the rule; the purpose is not the rule."

"A 'fix' can rescind the salary," Paulsen added, "but it cannot repeal historical events. The emoluments of the office had been increased. The rule specified in the text still controls." ...

Interesting history for a young guy... a problem you probably don't have Kimba...