January 15, 2013

Regarding Dana Milbank’s Jan. 13 Sunday Opinion column “Scandal! A Cabinet of yes men”:

The outcry over the president’s Cabinet picks assumes that a “team of rivals” is a more effective way of organizing the executive branch than is a Cabinet of like-minded individuals. I was impressed by the president’s Cabinet selections in 2008, and I applauded his efforts to populate his team with rival voices; it seemed to achieve that elusive merging of good politics and good government. However, that view overlooks the fact that Cabinet members are not only advisers but, perhaps more important, also run the nation’s enormous bureaucracy.

When piloting the lumbering ship of state, the president should want everyone rowing in the same direction. Modern history hints that second-term presidents learn this lesson in their first term. More experienced presidents appear less concerned with receiving diverse opinions and more intent on fielding a team of professionals that will help advance an agenda, one that the president has spent his first term honing.

In any case, the American people made their choice. It is now President Obama’s prerogative to make his.

Nick Clemente, Bethesda

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