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Where Are the Ones We Are Still Waiting for?

March 26, 2009

Mark Steyn is wondering why it takes Obama so long to staff his Department of the Treasury. The French Cowboy thinks that there are at least three possible answers. Two are fairly simple, one is a bit cynical and also happens to be the one the French Cowboy believes to be correct.

The first simple answer is, of course, that Obama just doesn’t have the time to find colleagues for Monsieur Geithner. During the last weeks, the President has been busy traveling the country to crack insensitive jokes on national television, setting up committees to address any made-up evil under the sun and filling out NCAA brackets. So Tim Geithner will just have to wait, as will that pesky Brit, as will anybody else who wants anything from the Treasury.

The second simple answer is that he can’t find suitable candidates. As the faces of the new administration prove undisputedly, President Obama has set such high standards in competence and ethics that only very few people can even be taken into consideration to join the White House. True, you may find a tax cheat or two among the staff members, maybe a few persons who have no experiences whatsoever in the area they have been made responsible for, or someone who has played a questionable role in past events of public interest here or there. But this doesn’t devaluate the fact that this is the ethical and transparent administration that we have been waiting for and additions to the Treasury staff shouldn’t change that.

Now the third possible answer, as mentioned above, will be mostly appreciated by cynics: the Treasury is left empty because it is in Obama’s personal interest to keep the crisis going. When you think about it, evidence in favour of this explanation is pretty obvious. Just remember the candid statement by Obama’s chief of staff (although I doubt you have forgotten it) that a crisis should be used to implement policies that would be impossible to be carried out in good times. It appears that Monsieur Obama regards the economic crisis as a huge opportunity to follow through his agenda of ‘transforming America.’

As long as the country is in crisis mode, everything Obama does will be set into relation with the economy. So he can either wait with the costly projects he has announced even before he was president because they would appear to be out of place when everybody’s worried about the economy, or, and this is the route he has taken, he can use the crisis as a pretext to do what he wanted to do in the first place. Obama wants to “invest” into green energy so, to make this palatable during the downturn, he assures us that green energy will ‘create jobs.’ Likewise, he wants to “invest” into education, so he insists that it has to be done here and now or America will lose its standing as the most powerful economy. He wants to turn the health care system into a de facto government-run institution, thus he claims that this will reduce ‘health care costs’ and bring economic relief to everyone.

Back in the old days, before the inauguration, the French Cowboy argued that Obama would wait with the costly plans that he had announced even then until the economic crisis had subsided. It just seemed politically too maladroit to try to sell such ambitious projects that would demand a lot of spending and yield a return only decades later – if ever! – during economic hard times. But obviously the White House has a different strategy, presumably because they are aware of their plans’ being unattractive to most Americans in normal times. So staffing the Treasury isn’t a priority as it runs counter to Obama’s intention to politically max out the economic crisis.

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