Ezra Klein throws some much-needed cold water on all the excitement about how smart and experienced and hyper-competent the Obama Administration is shaping up to be:
"Isn't it amazing," asks Krugman, "just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they're doing. For a bunch of people who were written off as a permanent minority four years ago, the Democrats look remarkably like the natural governing party these days, with a deep bench of talent." That certainly feels true. But the Bush administration started out with a fairly deep bench. Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Paul O'Neill --a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and a past chairman of the RAND Corporation -- as Secretary of the Treasury. Columbia's Glenn Hubbard as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice providing foreign policy expertise. Indeed, the Bush team was lauded for being such a natural entity of governance: These were figures from the Nixon and Ford and Bush administrations, and they were backed by graybeards like Baker and Scowcroft and Greenspan. What could go wrong?
In a related vein, a reader suggests re-reading David Brooks' recent column praising Obama's team ... and then comparing it to this 2001 piece Brooks wrote praising Bush's cabinet. The two pieces don't repeat themselves, exactly, but they rhyme - because the Bushies looked pretty good on paper, too.