Observations from the Cheap Seats

  • Applause for President-Elect Obama’s selection of Timothy Geithner as the proposed new Secretary of the Treasury. This was a very good selection. Geithner has a good working relationship with Ben Bernanke — they are said to be constantly on the phone with each other and to share similar approaches towards Fed policy in addressing the recent economic turmoil. Geithner is smart, savvy and a hard worker — this selection was well done.

  • Random thoughts and curiosity greet President-Elect Obama’s selection of Bill Richardson to head the Commerce Department. Commerce has traditionally been the cabinet post reserved for political payback to large campaign donors or close friends of the president — irrespective of their talent or acumen. While current Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, doesn’t fit that mold — past head of Kellogg Co. — his exposure to world-wide markets in his various roles at Kellogg and his strong business acumen made Gutierrez a natural for Commerce. But, the fact that Richardson doesn’t neatly fit either one of those paths to Commerce is what makes his appointment so curious. He is a foreign policy expert, strong legislator and administrator, whose talents would better serve the President-Elect in another capacity, perhaps as DNC head, than at the oft-thankless and forgotten spot at Commerce.

  • Oh, man . . . we are in for a roller-coaster at Foggy Bottom if Hillary takes State. I must admit that I didn’t think there was any way that she would, because she still wants to be president — and I will bet that there were many Obama advisors who thought the exact same thing. The plan was — offer her the position, she won’t take it and then Obama has perhaps brought some more Clinton support into the fold. It backfired!! Hillary wants to be President and there isn’t any way she is going to take direction from a President Obama — oh, she’ll play the part, but behind the scenes watch out; nor is she going to take direction from a bunch of Obama appointees, who in this era of change are curiously former Clinton appointees (whose loyalties will truly be tested.) I am now of the position that Obama made a huge mistake offering her this post. Two years down the road, she will break from the administration and decide that it’s time to make another run. My apologies to Chris Matthews, who criticized the appointment. But, while he was right to criticize it, his reasoning was off. He called Obama’s offer Machiavellian — it’s actually Hillary’s acceptance which is Machiavellian. Obama is simply and naively masochistic.

  • It’s time for conservatives to publicly “out” so-called conservatives and label them what they are — “liberals.” I know it’s a little trick for the major media to call them conservatives and point out how they are breaking from the broader conservative movement. Well, it ain’t going to work anymore and we can play that game, too. Things are clear from the cheap seats — David Brooks is a liberal.