Obama needs to reach out to Republicans. Here’s an idea: name a former Republican Senator to the most powerful Cabinet post.

The problem in Washington is partisanship. And Barack Obama has contributed to that problem by being mean to the poor widdle Republicans who only want to make nice with him. So maybe he should reach out the hand of friendship.

I know! Maybe he could nominate a former Republican Senator to the most powerful office in Washington other than the Presidency, running the agency with by far the largest budget, the largest number of employees, and the largest volume of contracting. Just to be sure, he could pick someone named as a potential Secretary of State by a former Republican Presidential nominee. Surely the other Republicans in the Senate would welcome such a conciliatory gesture.

Oh, wait

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

22 thoughts on “Bipartisanship”

  1. The attacks on Hagel as anti-semtitic has been shameful, although he comments on Jamea Hormel were quite disgusting. I do not oppose his nomination. Yet as an American Jew I am worried about the signal it sends to Iran, which supports his nomination (look it up). Iran has consistently made epidemiological references to the state of Israel, suggesting that it would have no compunction sending its 7 million citizen to death upon its achieving nuclear capability. Am I just being paranoid: I don’t think so.

    1. Simon, why should we care what Iran thinks of Senator Hagel? Do you really think the mullahs are capable of rendering a nuanced opinion of anything involving the U.S. Government?

      Myself, I don’t. And if the mullahs think that Hagel as SecDef is going to make the sanctions regime easier, I expect they will be quickly disillusioned.

      Finally, do you really mean epidemiological? If the Iranians have a thermonuclear device, why would they bother with biological weapons?

      1. Hey Dennis. I meant epidemiological in how they refer to Israel “Cancerous” “Tumor”. It’s the same way the Nazis talked before the final solution and that’s a fact. Anyway, he will soon be confirmed so we will see how things play out.

        1. I’m not so sure he’ll be confirmed after today’s s***storm.

          I would not put it past the senileor Senator from Arizona to put a hold on the nomination. I would also not be surprised if some of the D’s defected in some fashion.

          What I’m saying is that I think he will be confirmed if it comes to a vote, I am much less sure that it will come to a vote.

          On the word choice thing, I was actually wondering if autocorrect had changed eschatological to epidemiological.

  2. I bet that if a white Republican had appointed Ben Bernanke to America’s most powerful domestic policy office and gave Robert Gates one of the most important foreign policy jobs, the rightwing nuts wouldn’t dream of calling him a closet socialist who was weak on terrorism. Call it a hunch.

  3. The above comments are about policy, and positions. I myself believe policies are important! But the friend of mine who worked for a Senator who was on the same committee as Hagel says he is an extremely unpleasant person, made demands of his staff which none of the other Senators made (not demands which were aimed at making better sausage, just demands that people dance attendance on him). Staff fled him to the staffs of other Senators. You can get away with that shit if you are a Senator, but people do remember. He has little reservoir of good will, either among staff or current Senators. Always a bad idea to piss in a well you will have to drink from.

    1. It’s possible that Obama views this as a feature, not a bug. He hired Hagel as an angel of death, tasked with cutting down the Department of Defense. Obama might think that one needs to be a bit of a jerk to get this very unpleasant job done. I’m not sure that is true. I remember working with a fellow who was hired as an angel of death, and turned out to be a damned good one. He wasn’t at all a jerk, possibly because he had absolutely none of the ordinary compunctions about his job. (Of course, I wasn’t one of his human sacrifices, so there may be some selection bias here.)

      1. This doesn’t make any sense. The man could barely put together a coherent sentence yesterday. You can agree with his positions and think he’s the wrong man for the job.

        Let me give an example. Graham asked: “why do you think Iran supports your candidacy” to which he responsed “I have no idea I have enough problems with domestic politics”. This is truly stupid. He should have said “Because they mistakenly believe that I have taken the option of a military strike off the table in our attempt to stop Iran’s march towards a thermonuclear device.” This isn’t rocket science. He was prepped for three weeks.

  4. I suppose a Republican President could find a Democrat who was widely loathed by his fellows, if he wanted to play at “bipartisanship” while actually being an ass. Two could play at this game, but is it really a game worth playing at?

    1. The choice of Hagel strikes me as not about bipartisanship (because I think Obama’s done with that game, thank god, having realized that the Republicans always, always act in bad faith) but about a choosing centrist who has staked out positions that he actually believes in. I respect Hagel because he actually forms his own opinions, rather than being the ventriloquist’s dummy for the day’s GOP talking points. It was unpopular to buck his party on Iraq, on Israel. Yet he did. You really think this is about choosing a “bipartisan” nominee?

      1. Somehow, I’m thinking that a Republican President appointing Lieberman as Secretary of State, or Webb as SecDef, would face Democratic opposition.

        1. Lieberman’s not a Democrat, but he’d sail through confirmation. And even the online liberals wouldn’t gripe about Webb as a Republican SecDef.

      2. “…but about a choosing centrist…”

        Hegel is very reasonable on foreign policy/military stuff as far as Republicans (and even some Dems) go, but in terms of overall ideology he’s hardly a “centrist”.

    2. Brett, according to you, you don’t like any of the Republicans either, because they are all No True Scotsmen and constantly betray Real Conservatism.

      So, let’s hear it: Which Republican would you have Obama appoint as Sec Def? and why?

      (But make sure your choice isn’t anyone that the rest of the Republicans don’t like, because according to your comment above, that would stink of fake bipartisanship on Obama’s part.)

      1. I really don’t have much of an opinion as to who’d make a good Sec. of Defense. I just note that there’s nothing perverse about Republicans disliking a Republican nominated by a Democrat, Republicans would be equally capable of picking a Democrat who’d annoy his fellow party members.

        I don’t imagine Obama thought he was doing Republicans any kind of favor by nominating Hagel. Just using the Sec. of Defense position to screw with his enemies. Or, who knows, maybe he really WAS clueless about how disliked Hagel was, and though the pick would sail through.

        1. “Republicans would be equally capable of picking a Democrat who’d annoy his fellow party members.”

          Except that given the opportunity in 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, or 2004, when did a Republican president-elect choose such a Democrat for a cabinet post?

  5. A reader at Talking Points Memo made this articulate comment: “However, the 2010 Congress effectively adopted the NRA playbook of total resistance to anything Obama or the left suggested. And that kind of retrograde, never say die, our way or nothing conservatism has pushed a lot of people to say enough is enough. Many citizens have come to realize that on basically every issue, conservatives are an obstacle and not at all interested in the common good, only having a world that flatters their ideological prejudices. And people kind of hate them for it.”

  6. I was surprised and not very happy that President Obama nominated Hagel for this job. I don’t agree with his views on Iran and I found some of his comments offensive. Even more than “Jewish lobby,” it was “I’m not a Senator from Israel.” I mean, did someone imply that he was or should be? How did this formulation even get into his head? It’s the dual loyalty smear, and to me the fact that this statement and formulation came out of his mouth, unprompted, is evidence that he believes it.

    But on top of that it’s pretty clear from this hearing that he just isn’t very bright.

    President Obama chose the wrong place to make a stand. He should have backed Susan Rice to the hilt, and he should have dumped this turkey.

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