A Heretic's Advice To Obama

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, June 21, 2008

Today, I shall commit an act of heresy so offensive to cherished Washington beliefs that revocation of my citizenship in the nation's capital is quite likely to follow.

Nonetheless, I press on.

My offense? I contend, contrary to accepted Washington doctrine, that should Barack Obama be elected president, he ought not to allow his administration to fall into the clutches of Washington insiders.

(The distant sound you hear is that of long knives being sharpened.)

This advice is offered for Obama's own good.

More than 30 years of observation has led me to conclude that Washington insiders are to new administrations what steroids are to baseball. They are easily available, can produce a profound sense of strength and are hard to withdraw from once trouble hits home.

My colleague in The Post Co. family, Evan Thomas of Newsweek, touched lightly upon this topic in a recent column ["A Disconnect: What Obama promises. How Washington Really Works," June 17]. But he reached a different conclusion.

Thomas wrote about a Washington party he attended recently with various movers and shakers who strongly believe that a new president "need[s] to hire people who know the town, who are 'wired' and get around."

"Someone in my little group did try to wonder what it would be like if a president only hired outsiders, but he was quickly drowned out," he wrote.

That voice was mine.

Today I continue, uninterrupted.

First of all, my thoughts about "Washington insiders" apply to Democrats and Republicans alike. Regardless of their political stripes, Washington insiders share a received wisdom that holds that no new president can make it in this town without them.

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