Given the discipline and toughness Team Obama showed during the Presidential campaign, I figured that when it came to the transition, the same degree of discipline would be shown. To be specific, I thought that the Administration-in-waiting would be able to keep mum on personnel decisions until all the i’s were dotted and all the t’s were crossed, and only then, come out with public announcements on selections for Cabinet departments and White House staff positions.
Instead, Team Obama seems to be suffering from leaks. Just about every announcement these days is leaked–along with a statement that an official decision concerning a leaked candidate has not been made because vetting is still going on. The Washington Post has noticed this too:
Top aides to the president-elect had hoped to take a methodical approach to selecting and unveiling their new team, starting with the announcements of top national security and economic players shortly after Thanksgiving. But leaks and rumors have disrupted that plan, suggesting that the “no-drama Obama” mantra famously repeated by his staff may not be as operational in Washington as it was at campaign headquarters in Chicago.
Obama has not officially announced any Cabinet appointments, but transition officials have reluctantly confirmed that former senator Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) will be nominated as secretary of health and human services, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is the top choice for the Department of Homeland Security, and Eric H. Holder Jr. is likely to be the attorney general pick.
Meanwhile, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) is on track to be nominated for the job of secretary of state after Thanksgiving, transition aides said. And late last night, Obama aides were confronted with unconfirmed talk that retired Gen. James L. Jones could be tapped for national security adviser.
I suppose that the President-elect is going to want to stop all of this, but I am not sure how he will be able to do so–absent playing his cards extremely close to the vest. One practical effect of this sudden burst of leaks is that it will remind all and sundry that despite the impressive performance of Team Obama during the campaign, the President-elect and his advisers are not ten feet tall. They will make mistakes and those mistakes can be taken advantage of by Republicans.
Perhaps–just perhaps–we are seeing hints as to the commission of those mistakes. Discipline is breaking down among the members of the Administration-in-waiting. Who knows where that will lead, and what advantages can come to Republicans if the incoming Administration is seen as having dropped the ball politically?