Obama’s Team is lacking top players – like every other president

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.

Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled — a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both.

While career employees or holdovers fill many posts on a temporary basis, Mr. Obama does not have his own people enacting programs central to his mission. He is trying to fix the financial markets but does not have an assistant treasury secretary for financial markets. He is spending more money on transportation than anyone since Dwight D. Eisenhower but does not have his own inspector general watching how the dollars are used. He is fighting two wars but does not have an Army secretary…

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Mrs. Clinton expressed the exasperation of many in the administration last month when she was asked by A.I.D. employees why they did not have a chief. “The clearance and vetting process is a nightmare,” she told them. “And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words…”

But the White House expressed less concern because by its count it has matched or surpassed past presidents in putting together its government. “Given that we’re ahead of where previous administrations have been, we feel we’re moving at a fairly quick clip to get everything done,” said Bill Burton, a deputy White House press secretary…

The White House prefers to include ambassadors, United States attorneys, marshals and judges, who are also subject to Senate votes but are not counted by the scholars. By that count, Mr. Obama has won confirmation of 304 nominees, compared with 301 for Mr. Bush, 253 for Bill Clinton and 212 for the first President George Bush at this point in their administrations.

The process has become absurd. RTFA if you wish to examine some of the details. But, wasting time in Congress while some lawyer who never held down an honest job raises “deep” questions over one sentence uttered in a forum 12 years ago – is not how you go about building a functioning government.

Which is why, this time round, the Republican lawyers representing fewer people than ever develop more convoluted challenges. The fear and hate characteristic of right-wing politics is hardly more evident than in their unwillingness to acknowledge complete rejection of 8 years of crap policies – by the American electorate.

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