Regarding Chas Freeman's withdrawal, David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy wrote:

The genesis of that crisis is that we have lost perspective on what the criteria for selecting and approving government officials ought to be. Financial trivia, minutiae from people's personal lives and political litmus tests have grown in importance while character, experience, intelligence, creativity and wisdom have fallen by the wayside. Ridiculous threshold obstacles stand alongside obscene ones and when taken with the relentless personal attacks associated with high level jobs in Washington -- the low pay, and the extreme difficulty of getting anything done -- we are seeing even those selected for senior jobs turn away in droves. We are at a moment of not one but an extraordinary array of great crises and challenges for America and we are effectively keeping the people we need most out of the positions we most need filled. 

That's in the defense/foreign policy area, which is comparatively well-advanced in finding staff compared to Treasury.  At least in those areas, a powerful government position is the apotheosis of the field, which means that people are often willing to put up with the hassles.  In areas where there are more lucrative options with near-equal prestige--i.e., nearly all the rest of them--it's getting harder and harder.

This new tradition of bulldogging every appointee in the hope of embarrassing the president has to stop.  We should be focusing on whether or not the nominee can do the job, not whether there is some small breach of an onerous regulation in his history that can possibly be dug up.  It feels good in the short term, but when ability to find a native-born nanny becomes a more important qualification for the presidential candidate than experience relevant to the job to be done, it's time for a national rethink.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to