Leave Them On Wall Street

Politico has a silly article up criticizing President Obama for not putting any CEOs in his Cabinet:

In President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, there is a Nobel Prize winner, a former mayor and a veteran CIA agent. Surrounding him in the White House West Wing are a former four-star general, one of the nation’s most eminent economists and a handful of this generation’s most talented political operatives.

This constellation of talent, however, has something of a black hole…[t]here are no former CEOs in the Obama Cabinet. And among the people who make up his daily inner circle, there is only a dollop or two of top-level private sector experience.

First, being good at business doesn’t necessarily translate into being good at politics. Some business execs make the transition well–Mark Warner comes to mind–but a lot of them also end up doing a terrible job, like Mitt Romney or George W. Bush. Being a CEO and a Cabinet Secretary are two very different jobs with very different motivations and purposes. Plus, there’s always the possibility of a conflict of interest between their friends in the business world and their duties as a civil servant.

Second, CEOs and executives have driven a number of massive corporations into the ground in recent months, necessitating hundreds of billions of dollars in government bailouts. Then those same executives had the audacity to complain about the $500,000 salary caps attached to  those bailout funds. Other CEOs and executives defrauded investors and stockholders of tens of billions of dollars in elaborate Ponzi schemes or other frauds. In other words, right now the incompetence, greed and corruption of CEOs as a class are on full display; perhaps promoting some of them to be Cabinet Secretaries isn’t the best move, particularly if there are other, more capable people for the job.

I mean, if a CEO is genuinely the best person for the job, I say appoint them. But criticizing the Obama administration because they didn’t go out and seek a token CEO to occupy a cabinet position for 4-8 years seems a little rediculous to me.

Plus, incidents like this aren’t helping:

[CNBC’s Rick] Santelli was “literally on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange surrounded by multimillionaire traders railing on the Obama administration for trying to help struggling homeowners, and berating people who are getting foreclosed on as ‘losers.'”

In the midst of Santelli’s tirade, threats about another “tea party,” and genuinely frightening screaming, it didn’t seem to occur to him that he sounded ridiculous. A $700 billion bailout for a financial industry on the verge of collapse? No problem. A $75 billion housing policy to stem the foreclosure crisis? Grab the pitchforks, show your unbridled rage, and prepare for a class war against those low-income families who’ve let down the Wall Street traders who’ve done so much to improve the nation’s economy.

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