Team of Rivals


Bad idea.


Team of Rivals

  1. Fantastic link, Paul. The article reveals just how easily the past can be turned into myth. This is precisely what Doris Kearns does in her biography, or should one say, hagiography, of President Lincoln.
    Clearly, Barack Obama and his close advisers need to get up to speed on their American History, especially the complex history of President Lincoln.
    President-elect Obama will rue the day that he drags in all or some of his leadership rivals into his executive. It would be even more disastrous, if he grants John McCain an important executive position!
    President elect Obama might want to look north of the 40th parallel for much better executive making models.
    The Macdonald, Laurier, King, Trudeau, and Harper cabinets come to mind. These Prime Ministers all ruled with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Mulroney lost plenty of cabinet ministers but he was loath to fire any of them. And Joe Clark contributed to his demise by cobbling together an (un) constitutional Charlottetown accord which the vast majority of Canadians rejected outright.

  2. There’s partisan and then there’s workable. CNN was full of this advice (from Republicans) to not be partisan with appointments, but the Democrats have a majority in both houses and Obama should use that to repudiate 8 years of relentlessly bad partisan Republican wedge-management.

    It’s a huge mistake to leave Lieberman as Chairman of the Homelands Security Committee because he has fundamental disagreements about what makes the US safe and this is exactly where Obama needs to make changes.

  3. Well, uh, I dunno. Seems to me Lincoln and his unworkable cabinet happened in 1861-1863, in that area. And it seems to me that in 1864 a certain Mr. Brown, for the first time in a very long time, actually spoke to a certain Mr. MacDonald, and the two joined forces. These men were not friends. They were not cordial adversaries. They were, very personally, enemies. They didn’t speak to each other! At all!

    So together they brought about the Dominion of Canada (along with many others–including Mr. Cartier–another of Brown’s ‘less than favourite’ people) , and then when his vision was realized Mr. Brown quit the alliance. I understand Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Brown never spoke to each other again.

    So, I have a problem with a suggestion that all adversaries cannot possibly do good work together. And it could be merely a coincidence that these two events happened in the timeline they did–but I doubt it.

  4. Of course, not to be radical or anything, but it’s just possible that good idea or bad idea, perhaps Abe Lincoln’s 19th Century construction of a Civil War cabinet has no bearing whatsoever on the relative wisdom or foolishness of stacking a cabinet with rivals in the America of the 21st Century.

    I’m just sayin’.

    I’m pretty sure if we all thought really hard we could come up with a couple of things that have changed since the 1860s. Ask the black guy who just got elected President. I bet he can come up with at least one.

    Besides, it could have been a terrible idea for Lincoln and still be a good idea for Obama. It could have worked out great for Lincoln, yet fail miserably for Obama. It could be a great idea for Obama, AND fail miserably (but be a lesser failure than would have been the case had he done otherwise). Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it, but it’s not as though the past really gives us some magical means of viewing the future.

    Lincoln was elected President in the same year that the Pony Express began. We may just be making too much of the relevance of his example to life in 2008.

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