Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Fox in the Henhouse?

The Los Angeles Times has a piece this morning about Obama's new National Security Advisor designate, former Marine General James Jones. One look at this guy will make you feel more "secure"-- he's a straight out of central casting Marine general who simply projects strength and command presence. That's the good news.

The bad news is that he is also a Chevron board member who is part of a controversial working group at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce that supports nuclear power and more drilling, and that questions the validity of global warming. Needless to say, his selection is causing something of a dust-up among the Obama base, who are, for the most part, global warming apostles and champions of renewable energy.

While I'm not entirely convinced John McCain got the memo about Gov. Sarah Palin's history with a secessionist political party in Alaska and her pregnant teenage daughter, I am confident that--for the most part-- thorough responsible vetting of appointees does take place at the hightest levels of government.

Which begs the question, "Mr. Obama, what problems DON'T you have?"

The economy is in the tank, the war(s) lingers on-- and those are just the top-line issues. Why would a presidential adminsitration invite this kind of distraction and anger the constituent base it needs to underwrite and prolong its political honeymoon?

Jones may be the greatest national security advisor in the history of government, but if energy is truly a matter of national security, then that gives him a prominent seat at the table in discussions about national energy policy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a strong White House advocate for responsible energy policy, and the Times quotes remarks he made last year that seem pretty reasonable:

"Every industry, think tank and advocacy group has its interest, but everyone is going to have to step back and look at the bigger picture. The institute believes that an affordable, diverse and secure energy supply is fundamental to our security and to the expansion of economic opportunity and prosperity. We are equally convinced that this energy can be secured while making further progress in the fight for environmental quality and significant contributions to the management of climate change."

So this is either an inspired "Lincolnesque" selection by Obama that signals a cabinet comprised of anything but "yes-men," or it is a harbinger of the same kind of West Wing chaos we saw in the early days of the Clinton Administration.

Let's hope it's the former.