The Corner

But Why Not the Clintonites?

There is much talk about Podesta, Emanuel, Holder, Hillary and all the other Clintonites that now seem to have done pretty well despite their brand name losing the primaries. But I don’t think their presence is explained by ‘keep your enemies close’ logic

Instead, why the surprise that we get 1993-2000 instead of hope and change? Obama’s victory was unique in a lot of ways, but none more than in his lack of a prior political career from which to draw inside advisors. There is apparently no Hamilton Jordan, Jody Powell, or Bert Lance in Chicago.

Nor is there a Reagan California kitchen cabinet, or the Arkansas Webb Hubbell /Vince Foster pack that followed the Clintons to Washington or Bush, Rove et al. from Texas.

That is, given Obama’s absence of executive experience and brief tenure in the Senate, Obama never was in a position to assemble an insider team other than the Chicagoan Axlerod. So what was Obama to do when he needed savvy advisors and a brain trust he could count on from the old days to form the nucleus of his advisors and cabinet?

He could hardly draw on personal friends like Ayers, Khalidi, Pfleger, Rezko, and Wright. Other than Friends of Bill, the last Democrats to be insiders were the Carterites now in their 80s. So if a Democrat were to be elected President without much experience, and without friends or advisors he could draw upon who were qualified for office and worldly about Washington’s macabre politics, who but the Clintonites were there?

This seems to be an unprecedented development entirely neglected by the media, this sudden reliance on a primary rival’s team—ipso facto an illustration of Obama’s thinner political resumé. It is striking really how there is simply not a dozen or so Chicago vets who worked for Obama in the past as was the case with most other Presidents. But then who knows, given the careers of a Bert Lance or Webb Hubbell or Scott McClellan perhaps the already vetted old Clinton hands will work for Obama? But then on the other hand…

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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