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The Obama-Clinton Administration

Author: Peter Beinart
November 23, 2008
The Daily Beast


Barack Obama has filled his administration with former Clintonites--and thank goodness. Unlike past Democrats, maybe he won't fall on his face.

In recent weeks, as Barack Obama has stocked his administration with one former Clinton official after another, the cry has gone up from the pundits and blogs: "Where are the new faces?" "You call this change?"

Actually, yes. For the first time in four decades, a Democratic administration is going to hit the ground running rather than fall on its face because it will be staffed by people who know how the federal government works. That's change all right--the kind we can believe in.

Ever wonder why Republican administrations start fast and Democratic ones start ugly? It's partly because Republicans draw on experience. In 1981, Ronald Reagan ran circles around Tip O'Neill and the Congressional Democrats, jacking up military spending and slashing tax rates 25 percent. There were several reasons for this early success, but one of them was that although Reagan was new to the White House, many of his top advisors were not. His masterful Chief of Staff, James Baker, had served under Gerald Ford. His Secretaries of State and Defense had both worked for Richard Nixon, as had his National Security Advisor and head of the CIA. To be sure, Reagan brought in Californians like Edwin Meese and William Clark, but his most effective appointees--Baker and later George Schultz--were veterans of Republican administrations past.


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