Yo, Barack! Hey, John! I know you’ve been busy, cruising around the country, giving those same ol’ stump speeches over and over again. (Doncha get tired of that? We sure do.)
Park for a minute and tell us something. After you’re elected president, what are you gonna do with those buffoons running the Minerals Management Service that collects each year oil and gas royalties of $10 billion from oil companies? The Interior Department’s inspector general says top officials there have been involved in “financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.”
And while you’re at it, what about Nancy Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission? You plan to let her keep on defending “trips she took that were paid for by the industries that her agency regulates“? You gonna let her keep on telling Congress that her agency does not need a larger budget to police the the industries that produce the nation’s consumer goods?
You know, toxic goods like “the 518,028 tubes of toothpaste [falsely labeled as Colgate] worth an estimated $730,419 that were shipped into the country and distributed to bargain retail stores in several states last year”? Or the 21 million toys recalled because of excessive levels of lead paint?
And what are you gonna do about flip-flopper Stephen L. Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency who says “yes” until the White House, critics say, tells him to say “no”? Mr. Johnson initially told California it could limit tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles at higher-than-federal standards — but, critics say, reversed himself after a nudge from the Bush administration. Yes, he’s the guy who heads an agency that during the Bush administration once produced an annual federal report on air pollution with no section on global warming.
Yes, he was the guy in charge when the EPA — to save industry about $6 million in paperwork costs — instituted a “newly revised Toxics Release Inventory rule [that] will also make it possible for hundreds of large corporations to avoid reporting specific amounts of toxic chemicals they release into the air, land, or water, environmentalists warn.” [emphasis added]
And while you’re at it, do you plan to appoint someone as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission just ’cause he was a special assistant to the president, or a member of your transition team, or the general counsel to your campaign? You know, like President Bush did for current chair Kevin J. Martin?
You remember Mr. Martin, don’t you, the guy who faced “a congressional inquiry into the FCC’s procedures and allegations of flawed research studies, suppressing data, ignoring public input and holding hearings with minimal notice”? Yes, that guy, the one who told Congress that there’s no need to make rules to prevent an Internet service provider, like, say, Comcast, from creating “a ‘fast lane‘ for certain Internet content and applications” that would, in effect, create favored tiers of access for some commercial users over others.
And what are you gonna do about Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who ducked any responsibility for the scandal rattling the $85 billion student loan industry with a bland statement that “We monitor these programs vigorously” and that the system was “crying out for reform”? And what about her work with No Child Left Behind, the 2001 law requiring schools to track the progress of students in math and English? Given that the government never fully provided the states with funding to appropriately enact the law, has it worked? How hard did she actually push for full funding? Should she stay? Go?
And there are so many others. Do you plan to examine the performance of the head honchoes in the Securities and Exchange Commission? Where were the regulators when financial institutions were tossing out subprime loans like candy? Did the SEC act with sufficient alacrity “to examine the role of the rating agencies in lending practices by the mortgage industry”?
You plan to retain Christopher Cox as chairman of an agency that’s supposed to regulate industry? Do you believe him when he says he’s “actively on the lookout for possible securities fraud?” You know, of course, that as a congressman he pushed a bill that would restrict investors’ ability to sue industry? And that as chair, critics fear he’s still pushing to protect industry, not regulate it? Is that the kind of SEC you want?
What about those fine folks at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, led by John Dugan? His bio says Mr. Dugan is the “administrator of national banks and chief officer of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC supervises about 1,700 federally chartered commercial banks and about 50 federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States, comprising nearly two-thirds of the assets of the commercial banking system.” Hmmm. Big banks are tumbling fast and furious. You gonna keep him?
What about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? It will become more on the spot as the nuclear power industry gears up to do its self-promoted part in ending our reliance on foreign energy sources. What about those agencies with lots of words in their names that deal with transportation safety in the air, on land and over the water? ‘Cause you know, of course, that the nation’s infrastructure is screwed up beyond belief. Who’s gonna fix it for you? And are you gonna keep on selling off interstate highways and other infrastructures to private investors instead of refurbishing them?
And was creating the Department of Homeland Security really a good idea? Who’s gonna untangle that debacle? And, sheesh, who are you gonna name to run FEMA?
C’mon, Barack. ‘Fess up, John. You are fully aware that as president you determine through your constitutional appointment authority how your administration functions through the roughly 2,000 people you name to administer federal departments and agencies.
So back off those lame, endlessly repetitive stump speeches. If you continue to claim the federal government is a) inefficient, b) too large), c) too small, d) ineffective or e) all of the above, talk turkey. Name names. Tell voters precisely the credentials and qualifications you’ll be checking off on folks who apply to work in your administration.
You’ve been lucky so far. The big-time media “analysts” and “commentators” and “contributers” and “anchors” have let you off the hook. You get to divert our attention from the core of governmental chaos by talking only about gay marriage (good? bad?), Iraq (in? out?), Supreme Court appointments (no litmus test?), elitism (him, not me!), education, (more teachers now, please), crime (more police now, please), illegal immigration (it’s really bad, of course!). You get to avoid most of what really counts.
So give us the real red meat. Who’s really gonna run the government? Tell us.
And we know you’re not going to be personally sifting through a gazillion résumés to fill thousands of government posts. So who’s gonna do that?
Your “transition team,” of course. Why don’t you tell us now instead of after the election whom you’ll appoint to that team? The makeup of your transition team will tell us much about the qualifications you’ll be looking for in your administrative appointments.
But, of course, you won’t talk about this. Presidential candidates rarely do. And our wonderful media, far more interested in personalities, horse races and conflict (because conflict is what really sells papers and pumps up TV ratings), will harrumph, harrumph mightily and ask more stupid questions that you pretend to be offended by.
You’ve really got it easy, don’t you?
Problem is, he tells us who his cabinet will be, the media grinds on him for seeming like he’s already won the election. It’ll come off as pretentious.
That’s why I didn’t mention the cabinet. But somebody ought to demand that these guys begin talking about the backgrounds and credentials they’d expect folks to have to work in the next administration.
Remember the ideology-driven zealots in Justice? Reporters should ask Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain many, many more questions about the means with which they will shape government.