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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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Grasping Reality with Both Hands The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist J. Bradford DeLong: Fair, Balanced, RealityBased, and Even-Handed Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley #3880, Berkeley, CA 94720-3880; 925 708 0467; delong@econ.berkeley.edu.

Economics 210a Weblog Archives DeLong Hot on Google DeLong Hot on Google Blogsearch September 30, 2010

Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... He writes: A plain blog about politics: Two For the Fed: I've mostly thought that Rahm Emanuel has done a good job in many respects, but the appointment process is definitely not one of them, and Obama should keep that in mind when he's putting his new team together. That won't do it. That doesn't describe the situation. And as I have eaten my wheaties and read Michael Foucault's final Berkeley lectures about parrhesia, I am going to say what needs to be said. First, a longer quote from Jonathan: The Senate apparently cut a deal yesterday, approving a long list of executive branch nominations, most notably Janet Yellen and Sarah Raskin to the Fed (but not the third Obama nominee, Peter Diamond). Presumably in exchange for that, and for GOP co-operation on some technical stuff that would have been a (minor, I think) hassle for the Democrats during the lame duck session, Harry Reid agreed to hold pro forma sessions through October so that Barack Obama cannot do any recess appointments. Brad DeLong's reaction is that "we need a very different Senate." It's certainly fair to criticize the Senate for taking forever to confirm nominations that are not controversial -- the Fed appointments were approved by http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/obama-personnel-non-policy-jonathan-bernstein-pulls-his-punches.html

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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 7:44 PM

voice vote, and the other 52 nominations were by unanimous consent.... The nominations were announced on April 29 of this year, so it took the Senate five months. That's not great... [B]ut if I recall correctly, two of the openings here go back to the beginning of Obama's presidency... far more of the delay is the responsibility of the president, not the Senate. Moreover, by taking so long to nominate people for executive and judicial positions, the White House is sending a signal about priorities.... Now, granted, part of the reason that nominations are taking so long in the first place is presumably because of how hard they are to confirm.... Still, I put a lot of the blame here on the administration... To this I have two things to say: 1. Blame is not zero-sum. Jonathan Implies that the blame should be taken off of the Senate and placed on... Rahm Emmanuel. No. It doesn't work that way. Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are blameworthy, and should be blamed. 2. The COSSACK WORKS FOR THE CZAR!! THE APPOINTMENTS %^$#@$% SCREW-UPS IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ARE NOT RAHM EMMANUEL'S FAULT BUT BARACK OBAMA'S. In a sane system of government-a parliamentary system, for example--Obama's failure to take appointments seriously would be proper grounds for his immediate elevation to the House of Lords and exclusion from any and all levers of power. Nobody should accept a senior appointment to the cabinet or the White House staff until Obama names somebody else as Deputy President for Personnel--Chris Edley or Erskine Bowles or John Podesta or whoever--and agrees to rubber-stamp their decisions. If Obama isn't interested in that part of the job, fine: he shouldn't do it. But he needs to let somebody else do it--and do it now, and blaming Rahm for this is not accurate. Brad DeLong on September 30, 2010 at 11:01 AM in Obama Administration | Permalink Favorite

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Comments Robert Waldmann said... Remind me to check and made sure you haven't recently eaten wheaties or read Foucoult before asking for comment on any of my research efforts. http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/obama-personnel-non-policy-jonathan-bernstein-pulls-his-punches.html

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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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For one thing "House of Lords" is not polite English. I believe they call it "the other place." Reply September 30, 2010 at 11:32 AM Robert Waldmann said... Also forgive my pun and don't stop Yellen. Reply September 30, 2010 at 11:34 AM save_the_rustbelt said... Robert is in rare form. The Rahm-bo appointment was curious from the beginning, he makes me think of a senior adviser tasked to kick Congressional ass, not as an administrative type. Why he was made CofS is one more Obama mystery. And none of my Democrat friends can exactly explain how Harry Reid was chosen to lead the Senate. Much political capital squandered. Reply September 30, 2010 at 11:52 AM DrDick said... Bravo,sir, bravo! Reply September 30, 2010 at 12:12 PM Ken Houghton said... The purpose of putting Rahm in that position was to consolidate any possible rivals to BarryO in 2012. That the result left the Dems without a native American voice in the middle of the country (Sibelius), put Jan Brewer into the Governor's office in AZ (Napolitano), and turned the "50-state strategy" into "f*** it, we have the Northeast and Northwest" was clearly a predictable--i.e., don't try to tell me it was "unintended"-consequence. Whether that was viewed as a good or a bad thing seems intuitive, but is left as an exercise to the reader. (As an aside, it was that consolidation that made it clear that Obama was more likely to be a promise-breaker; it was the Dem equivalent of Dick Cheney finding out the dirt on all the possible Republican VP picks in 2000 and then telling Georgie Porgie, "Well, gosh, I guess I'm just gonna hafta do it, 12th Amendment be damned." Not coincidentally, he got John Yoo to write up why that was A Good Thing, too.) Reply September 30, 2010 at 12:16 PM jrc said... "The word is also used by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics [Book IV, 1124b28], not to characterize a political practice or institution, but as a trait of the magnanimous man, the megalopsychos. " All I want to know, other than whether or not parrhesia is possible in a society where truth is little valued, is why no one has referred to you as the "Megalopsychos" before? We can debate some other time whether the more important version of parrhesia today is the "speaking inconvenient truth to power" version, or the "creation of the self as capable of truth-speaking" version. The Megalopsychos appears already so created and so speaking. Even if the appeal to re-enliven the bureaucracy is not his most glamorous calling. Reply September 30, 2010 at 12:41 PM http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/obama-personnel-non-policy-jonathan-bernstein-pulls-his-punches.html

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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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Full Employment Hawk said... If Summers had been doing his job as chief economic advisor properly, he would have explained to non-economist Obama why filling vacancies on the Board of Governors with people who are sympathetic to your agenda as quickly as possible has to be given very high priority. If those two vacancies had been filled as quickly as possible, the Fed's monetary policy this year would almost certainly have been more expansionary. "[B]ut if I recall correctly, two of the openings here go back to the beginning of Obama's presidency..." That is the case for only one of them. The second vacancy occurred when Mishkin left the BOG. Reply September 30, 2010 at 02:56 PM Martin Weil said... YES!!!!!! Thank you for saying what needs to be said. Reply September 30, 2010 at 06:09 PM Anderson said... "And none of my Democrat friends can exactly explain how Harry Reid was chosen to lead the Senate." It says a lot about the Dems that a guy from a conservative state, who'd be forced to keep the prow veering to the right, was their *leader* in the Senate. ... Good post, of course. I think we're coming to the unpleasant realization that Obama, while he's done some good things and is probably a good person, may not be a good president. For the Dems to get hosed in this midterm -- not just lose seats, but get hosed -- is an appalling political failure, and we thought politics was something Obama was good at. Maybe he's just good at running against Republicans who pick insane veeps and Democrats who hire Mark Penn. Reply September 30, 2010 at 08:32 PM Comment below or sign in with TypePad

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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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Obama Personnel Non-Policy: Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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Jonathan Bernstein Pulls His Punches... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands  

Economics 210a Weblog Archives DeLong Hot on Google DeLong Hot on Google Blogsearch September 30, 2010 The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist J...

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