Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goofus vs. Gallant

Barack Obama announced on Sunday, that he was going to appoint General Eric Shinseki as the Secretary of Veteran Affairs. This was a selection that was widely praised by all, in particular those in the military.
In the run-up to war in Iraq in early 2003, General Eric Shinseki testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that it would take "several hundred thousand soldiers" to secure Iraq:

I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems.

Just two days later -- and exactly five years ago today -- then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, swiftly and infamously dismissed Shinseki's assessment.
Obama's transition continues to develop at a steady and competent manner:
Mr. Obama is moving more quickly to fill his administration’s top ranks than any newly elected president in modern times. He has named virtually the entire top echelon of his White House staff and nearly half of his cabinet. Just a month after his election, Mr. Obama has announced his selections for 13 of the 24 most important positions in a new administration.

By comparison, Bill Clinton had filled only one of those jobs by this point in his transition, and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan only two. Even the elder George Bush, who had the advantage of succeeding a fellow Republican, had picked just eight a month after his election. George W. Bush, stalled by the Florida recount, had named a chief of staff at this point in 2000 but was waiting to find out if he would even become president.
Furthermore, the latest Gallup Poll has 78% of Americans approving of Obama's handling of his transition and his Cabinet picks.

John Stewart provides a humorous comparison between Bush and Obama, with a nod to the Goofus vs. Gallant comparison. For those who are old enough, this was a staple of the Highlight Magazines which taught kids between good vs poor behavior by example in a cartoon. I remembered reading these magazines at the dentists office when I was little!

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