Pat Caddell: Not Just Wrong, but Lazy

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 16 2010 11:02 AM

Pat Caddell: Not Just Wrong, but Lazy

I more or less washed my hands of the silly Schoen/Caddell "Obama should retire and lead the way for Mike Bloomberg to pay us money" column yesterday. But I notice that the original column is, like a flaming pillar of tires collapsing on a bus of screaming children, still generating plenty of discussion.

CADDELL: I think, then, the idea of a unity government, and we believe that they would force the two parties - the kind of partisans that dominate politics that live inside the Beltway and inside the political world would be forced to go along with the president.

LUDDEN: But what kind of a national unity government? I mean, he does have a Bush-holdover as the head of the Department of Defense. What else would you, you know...

CADDELL: Well, he's leave that - that secretary is leaving. And, you know, there are no other than Ray LaHood, who has at a very minor post at transportation in Illinois. There are no Republicans.
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What the hell does that mean ? How is the Department of Transportation minor? (I'm assuming "in Illinois" was Caddell saying that's where LaHood is from.) It's larger and has more money to move around than ever, as most of the visible spending in the stimulus was for highway projects, infrastructure, and high-speed rail. Obama's presidency began with a political capital-draining spending package, and most of the public selling of the package, and a lot of the decisions about where the money should go, were handed to a Republican cabinet secretary.

I suppose if Caddell has a point, it's that Obama should... oh, forget it. He doesn't have a point. Tossing around names for jobs as if reshuffles fix political problems is one of the lazier and more lightweight forms of punditry. If Obama's biggest weaknesses are high unemployment and the continuing housing mess, how does he combat that? Fed appointments? Payroll tax cuts? A foreclosure moratorium? There is only so much space in a day for political arguments, and what drove me crazy about Schoen/Caddell was that it sucked up hours or days of attention for a premise that the authors can't support, because they don't have any apparent interest in discussing how government actually works.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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