By Peter RoffFellow, Institue for Liberty/Former Senior Political Writer, United Press International
Longtime conservative leader Morton Blackwell, a Reagan administration alumni and once the youngest Goldwater delegate at the GOP convention, is perhaps best know as the originator of the phrase "Personnel ispolicy."
Blackwell's observation speaks a great truth about American government. Since no one man or woman can do it all, alone, we have followed the French in the development of bureaucratic systems that allow for power and authority to be delegated to subordinates who are responsible, on a daily basis, for the administration of public policy. It is these people, even more than the president, who directly impact the way policies are developed and carried out.
Almost everywhere you look in the Obama administration you can find appointees whose beliefs are clearly outside the mainstream.
Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama presented himself to the American people as a change-oriented centrist, slightly to the left of the middle of the road. The way he has governed over his first 100 days, however, shows him to be anything but the image he projected, particularly where many of his appointments are concerned. And it is these appointments that will determine the direction of policy in his administration over the next four years.
Some of the names and some of the circumstances are already familiar. Obama may have a Cabinet that, to borrow a phrase from Bill Clinton, "looks like America." But they certainly don't pay taxes like the rest of us. Several of his most high level appointees, chief among them Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have been exposed as having failed to pay the taxes they owed at the time these should have paid them.
Then there is Attorney General Eric Holder, who prior to his appointment may have been best known for helping fugitive financier Marc Rich obtain a pardon in the waning days of the Clinton administration. Since coming into office, however, he shocked the nation when, during a presentation to mark Black History month, he called America a "nation of cowards" on the issue of race. Writer Joe Klein, who is generally sympathetic to the liberal point of view, denounced Holder for his remarks, saying they provided "absolutely no acknowledgement of the incredible progress that has been made over the last 40 or 50 years."
Janet Napolitano, who leads the Department of Homeland Security, similarly came under fire after her department released a report on so-called rise of right-wing extremism in America that lumped returning veterans and anti-abortion activists into the same group as white power organizations and Timothy McVeigh, who helped mastermind the 1995 bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. Embarrassed, she met with veterans groups in Washington on Friday and gave what an American Legion representative characterized as a "heartfelt" apology.
But it's not just the apples at the top of the barrel that are reason to be suspicious that a leftward drift is underway. There are plenty of secondary appointments, not all of which are subject to the Senate's advice and consent, which make up the new administration's gallery of liberal rogues.
White House Science Advisor Dr. John P. Holdren is a noted alarmist where the idea of global catastrophes is concerned. In 1971, he predicted that "some form of eco-catastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century." That same year Holdren also claimed that "population control, the redirection of technology, the transition from open to closed resource cycles, the equitable distribution of opportunity, and the ingredients of prosperity must all be accomplished if there is to be a future worth living."
More recently, in 2006, Holdren suggested that global sea levels could rise by 13 feet by the end of this century. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report suggests a potential sea level rise of just 13 inches.
Another Obama appointee clearly outside the mainstream of American thought and values is Harold Koh, the Yale Law School dean whom Obama tapped be the State Department's legal adviser.
Koh is, as columnist Andy McCarthy has written, "a radical trans-nationalist." His view is that the United States is not, in essence, an independent nation with a natural right to govern its own national security. Rather Koh's view is this country should be governed by a "trans-national jurisprudence" that "assumes America's political and economic interdependence with other nations operating within the international legal system." In Koh's world, U.S. law should be subordinate to some kind of international code.
Then there is Rosa Brooks, who has been tapped to be a key adviser to the undersecretary of defense for policy. A former columnist with The Los Angeles Times, Brooks once compared the work product of Bush's Office of Legal Counsel to "the so-called Big Lie theory of political propaganda, articulated most infamously by Adolf Hitler." In 2007, according to various sources, she characterized Al Qaeda as "little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull." And she once wrote "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn't be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.... Because they've clearly gone mad."
Hardly the calm, rational and reasoned approach one has every right to expect from a senior Pentagon adviser.
Almost everywhere you look in the Obama administration you can find appointees whose beliefs are clearly outside the mainstream, who are, in a word, extremists. David Ogden, the nominee for the No. 2 job at the U.S. Department of Justice, who, according to FOXNews.com once filed a brief on behalf of a group of library directors arguing against the Children's Internet Protection Act. The act ordered libraries and schools receiving funding for the Internet to restrict access to obscene sites. But Ogden's brief argued that the act impaired the ability of librarians to do their jobs. He called it "unconstitutional," though the Supreme Court later disagreed with him and upheld the act." He also "argued, on behalf of several media groups, against a child pornography law that required publishers of all kinds to verify and document the age of their models (which would ensure the models are at least 18). The provisions were struck down. -- Ogden was quoted at the time saying the potential reach of the law was 'mind-boggling' and even 'terrifying.'"
And then there's Dawn Johnson, who was nominated to be assistant attorney general and head of DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, who has written that "abortion restrictions reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers" and who has opposed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold a ban on partial birth abortion.
Rather than an administration of centrists, the Obama presidency is shaping up to be one in which the dominant voice is that of the American far-left. Right before our eyes, based on the appointments thus far, we are seeing "Changing we can believe in" being transformed into "Change we can't believe."
Peter Roff, a former senior writer at United Press International, is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom, an organization that advocates for educational freedom and reform.