Revisiting George Costanza’s “Worlds Collide” Theory — What Will Happen When The Obama Administration Doesn’t Function Like the Obama Campaign?
[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]
I was reminded of the Seinfeld episode that introduced us to the George Costanza “Worlds Collide” theory when I read this article yesterday about how the “military-like” and “disciplined” Obama campaign was giving way to an Administration stuffed with out-sized political personalities.
GEORGE: By the way, have you spoken to Elaine yet today?
JERRY: No why?
GEORGE: She called Susan last night.
JERRY: Oh yeah, I know.
GEORGE: How do you know?
JERRY: Well it was my idea.
GEORGE: Your idea?
GEORGE: Wha’d you do that for?
JERRY: She was looking for someone to go to the show with.
GEORGE: Well that was a really stupid thing! You know what’s going to happen now?
JERRY: World’s collide?
GEORGE: Whe … Well yeah!
JERRY: Because this world is your sanctuary and if that world comes into contact with –
GEORGE: YES! It Blows Up! So if you know that, what did you tell
JERRY: I didn’t know. Kramer told me about the worlds.
GEORGE: You couldn’t figure out the “World’s Theory” for yourself? It’s just common sense. Anybody knows, ya gotta keep your worlds apart.
JERRY: Yeah, I guess I slipped up.
GEORGE: Ah you have no idea of the magnitude of this thing. If she is allowed to infiltrate this world, then George Costanza as you know him, Ceases to Exist! You see, right now, I have Relationship George, but there is also Independent George. That’s the George you know, the George you grew up with — Movie George, Coffee shop George, Liar George, Bawdy George.
JERRY: I, I love that George.
GEORGE: Me Too! And he’s dying Jerry! If Relationship George walks through this door, he will Kill Independent George! A George, divided against itself, Cannot Stand!
(Maybe this is where all the Lincoln comparisons are coming from?).
I suspect Obama’s campaign world and his governing world are about to collide. Welcome to Washington President-Elect Obama, where those unwilling to take disappointment sitting down have made public dissent through press leaks into an art-form. The difference between a campaign staff and an Executive Branch administration is that the campaign staff all has one agenda — to get their guy elected.
Well, no such singular agenda exists in Washington, and Obama is laying a minefield for himself by assembling a Cabinet and Administration Staff that is overloaded with politicians who are quite comfortable airing policy differences in the media, regardless of who occupies the WH. They do so comfortable in the knowledge it’s not as easy to fire a Cabinet Officer or Chief of Staff as it is to sideline a campaign surrogate who goes off-message.
Colin Powell and Richard Armitage, the Secretary of State and Deputy Secretary of State, were so far off the reservation in 2003 and 2004 that Powell allowed a criminal investigation to infect the White House when both he and Armitage knew the person the investigators were looking for was Armitage — without ever giving the President so much as a courtesy call to say there person DOJ was looking for had an office only a few feet from Powell’s.
That is simply an example of why Obama is demonstrating himself to be unprepared for the ways of Washington by assembling the Cabinet in the manner in which he is. Hillary Clinton is a political personality in her own right, much like Powell. She’s not going to take orders from an Obama White House on matters of foreign policy where she disagrees with what she is told to do. She and her deputy, whoever it may be — and it’ll certainly be someone she selects — will conduct foreign policy in the manner in which she sees fit. Why would she even think to do otherwise?
The reality is that Obama is going to be hostage to the foreign policy that Hillary wants to conduct. If he makes her Secretary of State, he’ll quickly realize he has no adequate mechanism with which to make her adhere to his thinking. What’s he going to do, fire her? If you think Armitage and Powell were good sources for Bob Woodward’s books on the Bush White House, wait until he sits down with Bill Clinton if Hillary were to be canned at some point in the future.
So if he names her, he’s stuck with her and whatever she wants to do until she feels like she’s had enough.
Almost the same problem presents itself with Daschle at HHS. Health care reform is going to be a centerpiece domestic policy item in the first term. Daschle is a career legislator used to crafting the language of major pieces of legislation. He’s got a decades long working-relationship with Sen. Kennedy, whereas Obama was around for exactly zero years while Daschle was the Dem leader in the Senate.
So when it comes time to draft the Administration’s legislation, who will Daschle align himself with — Kennedy or Obama? Obviously he’ll say he’s advancing the President’s agenda with Congress but behind closed doors, if Daschle agrees on agenda items with Kennedy rather than Obama, what’s he likely to do?
These are all “Players” in Washington. They’re all used to fighting out policy differences in front of the cameras and in reporter’s notebooks. The Democrat party coalition is one of competing interests without a unifying theme.
I can’t wait for the nutroots to melt down in the coming weeks once they realize that Hillary is going to be Secretary of State and Robert Gates, CIA Director under Pres. Bush 41, President of Texas A&M (home of Bush 41 Presidential Library) and Sec.Def. under Bush 43, is going to remain as Sec.Def under Obama — and the troops in Iraq aren’t coming home any faster under Obama than they were under Bush.
Must stock up on popcorn.