[Guest post by DRJ]
Barack Obama is off to a wobbly start as President-elect. His first press conference was marred by an awkward and erroneous remark about Nancy Reagan. His first conversations with world leaders included a disputed discussion with Polish President Lech Kaczynski over the missile defense shield. And now his Change.gov website has been scrubbed:
“Over the weekend President-elect Barack Obama scrubbed Change.gov, his transition Web site, deleting most of what had been a massive agenda copied directly from his campaign Web site.
Gone are the promises on how an Obama administration would handle 25 different agenda items – everything from Iraq and immigration to taxes and urban policy – all items laid out on his campaign Web site, www.BarackObama.com.
Instead, the official agenda on Change.gov has been boiled down to one vague paragraph proclaiming a plan “to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives.”
A spokesman announced the website is being re-tooled. Perhaps the new, improved website will provide more clarity on Obama’s policies as President but, as usual, it’s hard to tell where Obama stands on issues. At some point he will have to take clear positions on specific issues instead of indulging his passion for flowery promises.
I’m not a fan of Obama’s liberal politics but I can appreciate an efficient organization. So, on the one hand, I’m encouraged by reports that his transition team has been working for months on proposed executive orders and personnel; that his first press conference had the foresight to display a “seal of the President-elect”; that he reportedly drafted his inaugural address before the election; and that the novel Change.gov website of the President-elect was up and running within days after the election. These actions show someone was planning ahead.
On the other hand, the fact that so many of these first acts have gone awry is not impressive. First, there were the missteps regarding Nancy Reagan and the Polish President. Then the Change.gov website had to be completely re-tooled just days after it began. The pre-election drafting of an inaugural address and the repeated use of faux seals suggests arrogance rather than preparing to lead. And the first hints of Obama Administration personnel – people like Jamie Gorelick for AG – raise rather than dispel questions about the judgment of the President-elect and his staff.
Obama obviously gets to pick his Cabinet and partisan picks are to be expected. However, Jamie Gorelick is not the only Democrat who could serve as AG but she may be the most controversial. To float her name as a first pick suggests the Obama Administration has a tin ear or feels invincible, neither of which work well in government.