AN OBAMA CEO SNUB?…. The Politico‘s Eamon Javers has a 1,200-word piece today, noting the lack of CEOs in the Obama cabinet. I’m sure that’s right, but I’m not sure why it matters.
In President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, there is a Nobel Prize winner, a former mayor and a veteran CIA agent. Surrounding him in the White House West Wing are a former four-star general, one of the nation’s most eminent economists and a handful of this generation’s most talented political operatives.
This constellation of talent, however, has something of a black hole. There is virtually no one on Obama’s team with outsized achievements or a high-profile reputation earned in the world of business.
There are no former CEOs in the Obama Cabinet. And among the people who make up his daily inner circle, there is only a dollop or two of top-level private sector experience.
This is a notable absence, particularly for an administration whose domestic reputation will hinge on whether it can reverse one of the steepest economic downturns in decades.
I suppose there’s a kernel of an argument in there — we’re in the midst of an economic crisis, so the president should be talking to people who’ve run businesses.
But this doesn’t quite add up for me. First, when facing economic collapse, I like the idea of a president talking to competent economists, not necessarily CEOs.
Second, it’s a mistake to assume boardroom experience matters in government. Both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ran businesses before 2000. How’d that work out for us?
Indeed, Javers concedes that several business leaders who served in recent administrations were “ostentatious flops,” and it is “hard to argue that there is a close correlation between success in business and success in Washington.”
The article, then, seems similar to the recent hand-wringing about the lack of Southerners in the cabinet — look through Obama’s team, look for a group or constituency that isn’t represented, and then speculate about the “snub.”
It all seems a little thin. OK, more than a little. Obama and his team have reached out aggressively to the business community, worked with CEOs on the stimulus package, and the White House has been open to the business community’s ideas.
It’s true, there are no CEOs in the cabinet, at least not yet. Who cares?