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How #Benghazi punctures the “team of rivals” myth

How #Benghazi punctures the “team of rivals” myth

There was a useful fiction about Barack Obama. His cabinet would consist of a “team of rivals.”

After this week’s hearings, I doubt we’ll hear the term again regarding this administration.

As Joe Klein enthused five years ago:

Obama has said he admires Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wonderful Lincoln biography, Team of Rivals. “He talks about it all the time,” says a top aide. He is particularly intrigued by the notion that Lincoln assembled all the Republicans who had run against him for President in his war Cabinet, some of whom disagreed with him vehemently and persistently. “The lesson is to not let your ego or grudges get in the way of hiring absolutely the best people,” Obama told me. “I don’t think the American people are fundamentally ideological. They’re pragmatic … and so I have an interest in casting a wide net, seeking out people with a wide range of expertise, including Republicans,” for the highest positions in his government.

But what does that mean? It has become something of a tradition for a President to claim bipartisanship by appointing stray members of the opposing party who either have a similar outlook or are tucked into the most obscure Cabinet positions; even George W. Bush hired Norman Mineta — remember him? — as Secretary of Transportation. Obama seems intent on going beyond that. “I don’t want to have people who just agree with me,” he said. “I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone.” Obama said he’d be particularly interested in having high-ranking Republicans advising him on defense and national security. “I really admire the way the elder Bush negotiated the end of the Cold War — with discipline, tough diplomacy and restraint … and I’d be very interested in having those sorts of Republicans in my Administration, especially people who can expedite a responsible and orderly conclusion to the Iraq war — and who know how to keep the hammer down on al-Qaeda.”

Obama himself, and many of his supporters saw these Lincolnesque qualities in the candidate. It was perhaps necessarily reassuring to believe this. After all here was the man who was perhaps the least prepared in history to assume the position of President of the United States. If he were not up to the job, no doubt his uniquely qualified cabinet with a wealth of talent and competing ambitions would push him the correct direction.

President Obama indeed surrounded himself with talented people. But they weren’t talented in the fields to which they were appointed or possessing executive experience, rather they were talented in the same area the President himself was: politics. NeoNeocon writes (h/t Instapundit):

The president seems to prefer to have people around him with even less experience and expertise than he has, which is saying something. . . . So it occurs to me that maybe the simplest way to describe what happened in Benghazi is that, from start to finish, nearly everyone in charge and everyone who was a close and trusted advisor to those in charge was a political operative. Everyone. This of course includes Obama and Hillary Clinton, and all the supposed national security advisors such as Rhodes.”

Did she write Ben Rhodes? Ed Lasky provides some background on Rhodes:

I have previously written about Ben Rhodes and his role in the Obama White House. It is shameful that this “kid” (he is all of 35) has been given any responsibility at all in our government.

In “Does it bother anyone that this person is the Deputy National Security Adviser?” I noted his problematic background for someone given so much power by Obama. But then again he does specialize in fiction-writing.

He earned a master’s degree in fiction-writing from New York University just a few years ago . He did not have a degree in government, diplomacy, national security; nor has he served in the CIA, or the military. He was toiling away not that long ago on a novel called ‘The Oasis of Love” about a mega church in Houston, a dog track, and a failed romance.

That doesn’t sound as much like “team of rivals” as it does “out of his league.”

Barry Rubin observes that the problem wasn’t just with Obama’s team either:

Benghazi is the perfect symbolism of the president of the United States going to sleep in the face of a crisis, the living embodiment of a 2008 election ad by his opponent about whether he would deal with a crisis that erupted at 3:00 a.m.

In order to “prove” that Obama was ready for the presidency despite his marked lack of relevant experience the MSM created a number of myths to help him evade the scrutiny they would have cast on any other candidate. One of them was that he’d surround himself with the best people. After the Benghazi hearings that myth has been effectively shattered.

It may not change anything, but it matters, as John Podhoretz writes:

We can say it’s a big deal because of the testimony of Eric Nordstrom, the regional security officer in Libya at the time of the attacks. “It matters to me personally and it matters to my colleagues at the Department of State,” Nordstrom said as his voice cracked with sorrow and he paused several times to choke back tears. “It matters to the American public for whom we serve and, most importantly, it matters to the friends and family of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, who were murdered on Sept. 11.”

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Comments

“Team of Rivals”…another of those pipe dreams Barry-O floated that you knew was never going to happen but which sounded just great.

The most embarrassing part of this administration these days is that they don’t even both trying to defend their lies. It’s like their attitude is, “We lied. So what? Get over it. We won.”

As fast as the administration and media have been at trying to bury Benghazi, Reps had better get moving quick. Time’s running out on John Q’s attention span.

Nuts…

“..don’t even bothER”…

Note to self: Preview is your friend.

This from the President who, two years into his Presidency, actually had cabinet members who had never met one-on-one with him.

    Ragspierre in reply to Neo. | May 12, 2013 at 10:05 am

    That is because Pres. Sleeper has no idea what an executive does, and makes no real effort to actually fill his office.

    He does not govern in any normal sense of that term.

    There are people who provide him with terms like “Team of rivals”, who HAVE some concept of organizational behavior from their education. He will employ these terms without the least understanding, or intent to use the concept, because he knows the words have power. But it is all deception.

Team of Rivals doesn’t apply, but “The Gang that couldn’t shoot straight” does, especially when straight shooting refers to how people get right to the point and tell the truth.

Personally, I think he’s assembled a team of criminals, but that could be said of the majority of career politicians these days.

great unknown | May 12, 2013 at 9:36 am

Team of rivals? Sure: MSNBC, CNN, ABC, WP, NYT …

[…] MANAGEMENT: How Benghazi punctures the “team of rivals” myth. […]

People in love with the sound of their own voice often say patently stupid, and/or obviously false things.

Klein is either unwilling or unable to recognize such from Obama.

Subotai Bahadur | May 12, 2013 at 11:58 am

They are a “team” of rivals only in the sense that Schellenberg, Kaltenbrunner, and Ohlendorf were a “team” in Germany; or Beria and Zhukov in the Soviet Union. They would cut each others throats, gladly, to curry favor with whoever is above them in favor, and crush anyone below them to maintain power and favor.

Subotai Bahadur

Next shoe: who put the youtube claim in?

Yes, and how did that youtube end up being shown on tv in Egypt? I didn’t word that right and can’t think how to say it – I guess I mean can the inception and travels of that video be documented – or – whose fingerprints are on it?

Why is that man being held with out a voice – what would he say if he was allowed to speak?

    Paul in reply to betty. | May 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    why haven’t the Obama sycophants at Google produced youtube logs backing the administration’s version of the video timeline and viewership?

I am not so sure the “team of rivals” approach is that great as a model for administrative effectiveness. An executive’s job is to determine how to achieve a goal and to execute that plan. But before the how comes the what. Determining the goal is a completely different task than figuring out the plan of execution to achieve that goal.

Someone running for President should have already figured out what his goals are. It appears to me that Obama didn’t have any realistic foreign policy goals before he got the job of President. His “plan” appears to be “play it by ear” and just respond to events as they occur. Having a “team of rivals” is the worst thing possible in that scenario because all you get is endless bickering about what the goal should be instead of agreement on the goal and meaningful discussion on how to best achieve it.

    David Gerstman in reply to CBDenver. | May 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Point take CBDenver, but I was addressing the conceit of the President and his most enthusiastic (read: silliest) supporters. I guess you could call it a straw man.

      CBDenver in reply to David Gerstman. | May 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      I wasn’t criticizing you, David. I was commenting on Obama who uncritically accepts some wrongheaded concept like “Team of Rivals”. So I guess ultimately I am criticizing Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I would extend the complaint a little farther. Sure, it’s true that Obama surrounds himself with idiots. It’s not a surprise that a person with no qualifications for his job would not consider qualifications to be important.

This is also a result of fools in the Senate who approve any nominee, no matter how corrupt or incompetent because, “The president is entitled to his nominees” or some such gibberish.

The constitutional imperative to “advise and consent” has been completely ignored. In fact, Republican leaders like McCain act as if they are doing something noble by ignoring it.

If they cared about the country, they would have told the president a long time ago that he had to up his game and appoint some people with actual expertise rather than just political hacks. He wouldn’t have listened (he doesn’t listen) but they at least would then have some credibility to critique the result! They don’t have that now.

    CBDenver in reply to irv. | May 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I agree that the Senate often drops the ball on advise and consent. But consider that the dumbest numbskulls recently confirmed were former senators. Would the Senators want to publicly admit that the Senate is filled with knuckleheads and dimwits?

LukeHandCool | May 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The only rivalry among the “team of rivals” is who can be the biggest brown-noser to Barack.

“The lesson is to not let your ego or grudges get in the way of hiring absolutely the best people,” Obama told me.

THAT is about the funniest thing I’ve read all year… the narcisist-in-chief saying he wants to have people around him who will chalenge him.

Of course, lots of liberals fell for it, but they were never realistic about Obama, anyhow.

Obama always did talk a good fight but, like the Drudge header the other day, he was always “all hat and no cattle” when it came down to actually doing anything.

This isn’t some scoop Joe Klein uncovered last week, it’s the story of the miscreant’s entire life. He never did anything concrete which could remotely qualify him to be a US Senator, much less President. And he was an absentee Senator, with a worse attendance record in his time in office than the last four years of either Thurmond or Byrd, both of whom spent much of their time in the hospital.

Joe Klein didn’t just swallow the Kool-Aid. He was mixing it up, passing it out, cajoling people to come and drink it. He’s part of the problem and deserves no pass for popping up when the wheels come off as if he were some sort of watchdog.

Klein is a lapdog through and through, but he senses his master has lost his mojo. Dogs, at least, are more loyal.

Unfettered POTUS arrogance coupled with a fawning obliging cabinet and major media is it’s own punishment… both Barack’s and those who’s misfortune it is/was to be in wrong places at the wrong times.

History is history and it’s being written in the blood of the forsaken.

[…] David Gerstman’s look at the Legal Insurrection blog, at how the Benghazi debacle punctures the Obama administration’s “team of rivals” myth. The “team of rivals” line was promoted in the summer of 2008 by Joe Klein, another […]

>>>>>>“I don’t want to have people who just agree with me,” he said. “I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone.” Obama said he’d be particularly interested in having high-ranking Republicans advising him on defense and national security. “I really admire the way the elder Bush negotiated the end of the Cold War — with discipline, tough diplomacy and restraint … and I’d be very interested in having those sorts of Republicans in my Administration, especially people who can expedite a responsible and orderly conclusion to the Iraq war — and who know how to keep the hammer down on al-Qaeda.”<<<<<<

What a total pack of lies. As neo-neocon points out, this is the exact opposite of reality.

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