Ed Morrissey @ Hot Air:
(h/t to Patterico for the title!)
Writing at First Read, Todd et alsuggest that Mitt Romney put more thought into the next Cabinet than Barack Obama did, and prepared better for it, too. While some of the Cabinet appointment decisions got forced on Obama because of circumstance, no one seems to be in charge of managing the transition in order to minimize that very problem:
But since November, where the White House has fallen short — and seemed completely disorganized — has been in its planning for staffing the second term. For starters, Susan Rice’s and Chuck Hagel’s potential nominations to top cabinet jobs were allowed to twist in the wind for weeks, with Rice eventually pulling out of consideration for secretary of state and Hagel now in real fight to win confirmation as defense secretary. In addition, the White House yesterday announced that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was leaving the administration — on the very day the New York Times ran a piece observing the lack of women in the administration. And also yesterday, the White House said Attorney General Eric Holder, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shineski are staying in a second term, but it didn’t announce what’s happening with the other cabinet secretaries, which then set off mini-feeding frenzies “are you staying, are you going?” for the cabinet secretaries not included on this seemingly arbitrary list.
Bottom line: The second-term cabinet shuffle has been an unforced error so far. (The reason why the White House is receiving criticism for a lack of diversity is that it has nominated three consecutive white men for cabinet posts — John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and today Jack Lew — but without a high-profile woman or minority thrown into the mix. And that doesn’t include John Brennan at CIA and a likely white male to be the next White House chief of staff.) Indeed, you could argue that the Romney folks thought a lot more about staffing a Romney administration over the next four years than Team Obama did about a second-term administration. In fairness to the White House, its top officials were so focused on the fiscal-cliff talks in the past two months. What’s more, this kind of disorganization isn’t unusual for a second term, especially after winning a hard-fought race for re-election. And finally, it’s a process story. At the end of the day, it’s likely that Obama’s second-term cabinet will have plenty of diversity and top-notch names. But the process hasn’t been pretty. Question for the White House: Why didn’t it have a second-term transition director? Someone whose full-time job was to keep an eye on the optics of how and when to announce, on the leaks etc.?
This goes to a chronic problem for Obama and his team — they’re a lot better at campaigning than at actual governing. They can build successful organizations for winning elections and raising money, but they can’t figure out how to organize staffing decisions so that they don’t run into the Diversity Police after it. Obama can rile up class-warfare passions to push for Buffett Rule tax hikes, but can’t write a budget that can gain a single vote in a chamber his own party controls … two years in a row.
With that in mind, should we be surprised that his second-term Cabinet rollout has produced embarrassment and backtracking? Let’s not forget that his first Cabinet rollout produced the same kind of disorganization when it became clear that no one was vetting potential nominees, or at least not vetting them successfully.