13 December 2008
There's been much comment on Obama's personnel selections; many on the Left have bemoaned the fact that he seems to have made some centrist choices, while some on the "Right" (see my commentary entitled The Other "L" Word) have pointed out that on key issues, such as opposition to the "Surge," Obama's picks don't amount to a "team of rivals" at all. One point that everyone seems to be missing is that those who hold Cabinet positions do not make policy, but merely carry out the orders of the President. (Indeed, the Cabinet was not even provided for in the US Constitution, but has rather been subsequently copied from the system of the mother country, and therefore is not technically even necessary.) An advisor has power only to the degree that the leader is willing to take his advice. Likewise, someone who owes what authority he has to someone else, e.g., the President, has no authority except what is delegated to him. Someone as megalomaniacal as Obama must be (to judge from the fact that he, firstly, announced his candidacy for the country's highest office after just two undistinguished years as a US Senator; secondly, speaks of himself as if he were a sort of secular messiah; and thirdly, now acts as if he were already President) obviously is not the sort of person to delegate authority to, or to take advice from, someone whose views differ substantially from his own.