The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has the anti-Trump media declaring the new administration a “mess,” in “turmoil,” and thrown into “chaos.” Funny, these same Chicken Littles barely shrugged their shoulders during the turmoil-laden first 100 days of Barack Obama’s first term. Some perspective is in order.
Remember the withdrawal of Obama’s pick for National Intelligence Council chairman, Charles Freeman, in March 2009? Obama had tapped the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia for the sensitive post despite abundant conflicts of interests. Freeman had served for four years on the board of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a company owned by the Chinese Communist government. The state-owned firm has invested in Sudan and Iran. Freeman also led the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group funded by the Saudi government. And he chaired Projects International, a consulting firm that had worked with foreign companies and governments.
Obama knew all that and looked the other way at Freeman’s role as a de facto lobbyist for Saudi royalty. Even worse, he ignored Freeman’s Jew-bashing and tyrant-coddling record with a Blame America axe to grind. Freeman carped that our country exhibited “an ugly mood of chauvinism” after the 9/11 attacks and condemned his fellow countrymen for connecting the dots of Islam and Saudi-funded jihad: “Before Americans call on others to examine themselves,” he fumed with Jeremiah Wright-style bombast, “we should examine ourselves.”
In fine form, Freeman inveighed against the “Israel Lobby” in his resignation letter.
The screed said less about Freeman than it did about the Obama administration’s AWOL vetting system. Where were the watchdogs to guard against terror-friendly conspiracy-minded kooks slipping into sensitive intelligence positions?
The Freeman withdrawal came after a series of Obama nominee withdrawals that the amnesia-suffering Beltway media has now conveniently forgotten in its haste to declare Trump’s transition the worst disaster ever.
By this time in Obama’s first term, former Democratic New Mexico governor Bill Richardson had withdrawn as Commerce Secretary nominee after both liberals and conservatives protested his long record of corruption and incompetence. His political horse-trading with private businesses — campaign donations for infrastructure projects, patronage jobs, and board appointments — was so notorious it had earned him the moniker “Dollar Bill.”
At the time Obama tapped him to lead the Commerce Department, Richardson was the subject of a high-profile probe and ongoing grand-jury investigation into whether he traded New Mexico government contracts for campaign contributions. The White House transition team knew about the pay-to-play scandal involving a California company, CDR Financial Products. They knew that the FBI and federal prosecutors had launched a probe of CDR’s activities in New Mexico in the summer of 2008. They knew CDR was tied to a doomed bond deal in Alabama, which threatened to cause the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. They knew CDR had raked in nearly $1.5 million in fees from a New Mexico state financial agency after donating more than $100,000 to Richardson’s efforts to register Hispanic and American Indian voters and to pay for expenses at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
It took 33 days before Team Obama threw Richardson and his ethical baggage off the bus.
Richardson’s replacement, former GOP senator Judd Gregg, accepted and then quickly withdrew after disagreements over Obama’s massive federal stimulus proposal and Democrats’ politicization of the Census.
Another Beltway barnacle, former Democratic South Dakota senator Tom Daschle, was also forced to withdraw from his nomination as Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary amid a storm of ethical scandal, conflicts of interest, and tax avoidance. That was compounded by Treasury Secretary Geithner’s admission of “tax goofs” involving his failure to pay $43,000 in federal self-employment taxes for four separate years (until, that is, he was tapped for his Obama post). At least five other Treasury staff picks withdrew before the Obama administration had reached the 100-day mark over tax problems, conflicts of interest, bad judgment, and records of lax oversight of industry.
By the end of his first 100 days, Obama had set a turnover record for an incoming cabinet with four major withdrawals. And by the hallowed 100-day mark, Obama had announced less than half of the total Senate-confirmed Cabinet department positions he needed to fill, with only ten approved — even though the Democrats had an overwhelming majority in the Senate at the time.
Yes, there will be significant bumps in the road and some tough lumps to take as President Trump builds his team. But a dishonest media and preening political establishment pretending there’s something “unprecedented” about such stumbles only discredit themselves.