In staffing his national security team and the bureaucracy, Obama relied too much on what Doris Kearns called the “team of rivals,” and the foreign policy establishment, most of whom did not and still do not share his transformational views about the U.S. role in the world. Until recently, Obama has been anything but transformational. It is important to note that the team of rivals were talented and dedicated people. Back in 2008, shortly before Barack Obama became President Obama, he told a reporter that an Obama Cabinet would be a team of rivals, smart people with different viewpoints who would, in Mr. Obama's words, push him out of his comfort zone. The book is a biographical portrait of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and some of the men who served with him in his cabinet from 1861 to 1865. And to compound the situation, when President Obama asked Secretary Gates for other options than that proposed by McChrystal, he refused to provide any. And what happens? It's in the latest issue of the magazine.
And everyone, I think, thinks Secretary Clinton has had a remarkably effective run at the State Department.
The presidency of Abraham Lincoln casts a long shadow on Barack Obama… By leaving Bush appointee Robert Gates in the Pentagon, placing his campaign rival Hillary Clinton at State, making retired Marine Corps Commandant, General James Jones, his national security advisor, and bringing CIA operative John Brennan into the White House, Obama essentially ceded control of foreign policy, not only to those who did not share his views on foreign policy, but who supported candidates for president who had views on national security issues that were dramatically opposed to his. Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
When Obama decided to cap this “gusher of defense spending” after the 2010 election, he did not even inform Gates. Hillary Clinton, the secretary of State, came to symbolize the idea, but what about the rest of the team? American presidents are usually classified as transactional or transformational, depending on what they accomplish in office. One of the things that was puzzling to many Democrats in the first couple of years of the Obama administration was that the president and the White House team had been unable to find more effective surrogate voices and salespeople for their policies.
He pledged to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urged others to do the same. After Obama’s election, almost none of the people who had worked so hard with Peter and I and took a big political risk early in the campaign received jobs. But after that, he really has, largely, a team of people who are quite loyal and who are not necessarily always on his side, but in the case of, say, Janet Napolitano, very early on his side, when it hurt her with, for example, women and Secretary Clinton to come out so early for Obama.
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