In today’s Washington Post column titled Running on Empty, David Broder leads off with this startling paragraph:
As if the problems in the U.S. and world economies were not enough of a challenge in themselves, the young Obama administration is also being called on to figure out simultaneously how to govern in such an emergency.
A big part of the second challenge lies in reconciling the pressure to move rapidly in rolling out its program initiatives with the much slower pace of assembling the leaders it needs to be able to function at all.
In its first six weeks in office, the administration has launched hugely expensive and ambitious programs, not only to spur employment and arrest a sickening slide in stocks, mortgages and profits, but to overhaul such complex and vital services as health care, education, and energy production and conservation.
And here’s the scary part:
It has done this with a mere corporal's guard of key appointees in place. The White House itself is rather fully staffed, but the departments and agencies, where broad policies must be converted into real operations, have numerous openings. Decisions are being made by career bureaucrats, Bush administration carryovers -- or not at all.
Broder concludes with a quote from a former Clinton staffer that nails the Obama Administration with a problem his predecessor never quite figured out – learning the difference between campaigning and governing:
A veteran of the Clinton White House said she worried that the administration is still in a campaign mind-set, with the president and vice president on the road every week promoting their programs. "The only thing that's important now is getting the money out the door, so it can start to work in the real world," she said. "Anything that distracts from that is a waste of time."
Oh, for the equivalent of the experienced and well-trained Chesley Sullenberger in command of America’s ship of state in these troubled times.