22 Nov 2008

Megan McArdle Has Buyer’s Regret With Obama

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First let’s set the stage. In a recent post, Megan McArdle links to this story and quotes the following:

Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee — once the chief economic adviser to candidate Barack Obama — may be less of a shoo-in to chair Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisers than his admirers once imagined.

The Obama transition team is interviewing to find a woman, perhaps a minority woman, to fill the CEA chair — a Senate-confirmed position. Informed sources suggest the candidates on the CEA list now include Princeton University economics and public affairs professor Cecilia Elena Rouse, whose specialty is labor economics. The hunt for a woman, explained several sources close to the transition deliberations, is aimed at broadening the white-male cast of the White House team assembled to date (the current tally of announced picks is 3 women, 9 men).

Goolsbee, a respected University of Chicago professor, remains in contention for other administration posts, the sources added.

Commenting on the above, McArdle says: “I’m flabbergasted. If true, this is a bloody embarassment [sic].”

Then she tells us at the end of her post:

More to the point, the worst financial crisis in seventy years is really not the time to see if you can brighten up the CEA offices with a nice, decorative matched set of X chromosomes. Goolsbee has been advising Obama since the beginning; presumably, this is some sort of testimony to the esteem in which Obama holds his competence. Throwing him overboard now makes this look like less of a “plus factor” and more like Obama is much less concerned with competence than painting a pretty picture for voters. Given the stakes, that’s more than a little irresponsible.

Needless to say, given that Obama’s sterling choice of highest-caliber economic advisors was one of my main reason for supporting him, my regret is mounting faster than ever.

No Ms. McArdle, I’m sorry, but you can’t get away with this. Obama showed quite clearly during the campaign that he would do whatever he needed to win. One day North Korea and Iran are tiny countries that pose no threat to us, and within that same week (possibly the very next day, I’m not sure) he said, “I have always said that Iran posed a serious threat to the United States.”

On the whole Jeremiah Wright thing, one day he is practically a father to Obama, and Obama could no sooner disown him than his own parents or the black community. And then Wright gives a speech to the Press Club and Obama throws him under the bus.

Folks, whatever you think of Obama, the one thing you really can’t say is, he’s an idealistic young man who doesn’t play politics like others do. There is no way you come out of Chicago, and then beat Hillary Clinton in the primary, unless you are a savvy politician.

Last thing, Ms. McArdle: I don’t care whom he had on his list of advisors. Are you telling me your primary support for Obama was because of his economic views?! Are you out of your mind? Does that include his plan to slap a windfall profits tax on oil companies to lower prices at the pump? What about his plans to raise the capital gains tax, and then saying “It’s an issue of fairness” after someone pointed out that it would bring in less revenue? How about the ludicrous “green jobs” programs? Need I mention Joe the Plumber?

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