Monday, August 2, 2010

Obama's Appointment Choices, Predictably, Come Back to Haunt Democrats

In January 2009, president-elect Obama made some bold choices for who he wanted taking leadership roles in the executive branch. Many of those choices are now hurting Democrats, and therefore progressive policies that Obama would support, especially with regard to this year's elections. Regardless of how good each of his appointments has done in his or her new position, Obama has sown some serious problems for his party. Here are the top six problems he's created for himself and his party.

1. Joe Biden. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a great Vice President (despite an often-unfiltered tongue). But without his son Beau running for his seat, and with his temporary replacement Ted Kaufman having vowed not to run, it's looking like his seat will be easily taken by popular Republican Mike Castle over Chris Coons, a largely unknown Democrat.

2. Ken Salazar. I don't deny that he's been a good Secretary of the Interior, but his seat opening paved the way for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to appoint political tenderfoot Michael Bennet to the seat. Not only is Bennet, who has the Administration's support, facing a tough primary against Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, but the winner of the primary will also face a tough general election in November against either Ken Buck or Jane Norton.

3. Janet Napolitano. Remember all that crazy immigration stuff going on in Arizona right now? The law that Obama's Justice Department is currently challenging in federal court? You can bet that the law would have never been signed if the President hadn't appointed Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to be Secretary of Homeland Security. With Republican Jan Brewer in place as governor, the state is setting some very controversial precedents for immigration policy that will no doubt inflame and incite immigration debates (and jingoism) around the country.

4. Kathleen Sebelius. When Obama appointed the Governor of Kansas to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (only after Tom Daschle got called out for his shady tax history), Mark Parkinson, a Republican-turned-Democrat in 2006, became Kansas's governor. Parkinson has already announced he's not running for re-election, but popular Republican U.S. Senator Sam Brownback is, and he's a shoo-in.  And you can be certain his replacement in the Senate will be a Republican.

5. Barack Obama. I guess Obama couldn't have prevented this one. But in the wake of his resigning from the Senate, we got to watch the reality TV-grade scandal that was Rod Blagojevich's replacement of the President with Roland Burris. Burris was forced not to run for re-election, and his seat, once solidly Democratic, is now considered a toss-up.

6. Hillary Clinton. After David Paterson continued to dig his own grave with his handling of Clinton's replacement for the New York Senate seat, he finally appointed conservative Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand (now Chuck Schumer's political protégé, and far from conservative). The Administration strongly supports Gillibrand's reelection bid, and has been aided by Harold Ford's decision not to run against her in the primary, and more so by George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani's decisions not to run at all. So Gillibrand will likely retain her seat, a reality that was far from a certainty a few months ago.

Images: Joe and Beau Biden (blogger), Salazar (, Napolitano and Brewer (Tucson Citizen), Parkinson and Sebelius (, Burris and Blago (, Clinton and Gillibrand (and Schumer) (

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