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Obama’s Cabinet of yes men
By Dana Milbank, Published: JANUARY 11, 12:21 PM ET
President Obama hasn’t even begun his second term, yet already he has been ensnared by scandal.
Republicans have uncovered a shocking level of wrongdoing in the Oval Office, and I’m afraid what they say is true: The president is brazenly trying to fill his Cabinet with . . . people he likes.
Alas, the perfidy doesn’t end there. Not only is Obama naming agreeable people to his Cabinet, he is also — audaciously, flagrantly — nominating people who . . . agree with his policies.
Hello, operator? In Waco, Tex., I’d like the number for a Starr, Kenneth W.
Among the first to blow the whistle on the scandal was Sen. Jeff Sessions. The Alabamian, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, went on CNN on Thursday, immediately after Obama tapped Jack Lew to be Treasury secretary, to tell Wolf Blitzer why he would oppose confirmation.
“This is another person just very personally close to the president,” Sessions protested. Lew should not be confirmed, the senator said, because “the budget that he wrote was condemned by The Washington Post, virtually every major newspaper in the country.”
This was unorthodox — Sessions rarely admits to agreeing with anything he reads in The Post — but the truth of the statement was undeniable: Lew did write the budget. He was Obama’s budget director before becoming White House chief of staff; writing the budget was his job.
Sessions had Obama dead right. He is nominating like-minded people to serve in top jobs in his administration. And this scandal will continue until Obama finally accepts his constitutional obligation to name disagreeable detractors to his Cabinet.
There was a time — specifically, the entire history of the Republic until now — when nominating trusted advisers to key positions would not have been a scandal. Only three times in the 20th century (and six times before that) did the Senate reject proposed Cabinet officers, according to the Senate historical office. Lifelong judiciary appointments, particularly to the Supreme Court, are often contentious. But, the historical office notes, there is a Senate tradition that “presidents should be allowed a free hand in choosing their closest advisers.”
The last rejected Cabinet nominee, John Tower, was denied confirmation as defense secretary after accusations of Read the rest of this entry »