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Team of Goofballs

Incompetence of Obama advisers knows no bounds

AP
• November 1, 2013 9:00 am

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President Barack Obama has surrounded himself with a team of loyalists who are more committed to supporting him than running the federal bureaucracy. Meanwhile, long-time Washington officials who have shown shreds of competence in the past are being swept aside.

Vice President Joe Biden, who had a leading role in brokering both the 2011 debt ceiling agreement and a fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of this year, was hidden away during the recent government shutdown, leaving Republican leaders to call for him to be brought "out of witness protection."

While Secretary of State John Kerry was attempting to present the case for a retaliatory strike on Syria, Obama cut him off at the knees by announcing that the administration would go to Congress for authorization. Obama did so, moreover, without telling Kerry beforehand. The result was that the United States sat on the sidelines while Vladimir Putin took control of the situation.

And we've been left in the hands of Obama’s Team of Goofballs.

Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius / AP

Kathleen Sebelius / AP

Obamacare’s rollout has been described as "disastrous," and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has taken much of the blame.

Sebelius testified before Congress Wednesday on the problematic implementation of the new health care law.

She was drilled on reports that individuals are being dropped from their insurance plans, on Healthcare.gov’s lack of privacy protection, and on creating a $678 million website that does not work.

She also said she didn't know whether Obamacare plans included abortion coverage.

Sebelius revealed last week that she was well aware of the problems with the system prior to its launch, but decided to move forward with the program anyway.

Sebelius still refuses to answer questions about the number of people who have signed up for the program.

Jack Lew

Jack Lew / AP

Jack Lew / AP

Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew previously served as his chief of staff. He is widely known as a hard-line partisan, which caused many to forecast that his appointment would lead to many second-term budget clashes.

"Republicans who’ve dealt with Lew in negotiations on taxes and spending regard him as the most partisan, ideological, and uncompromising of Obama’s aides," wrote Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard prior to Lew’s appointment.

Lew lived up to his reputation during the recent budget impasse that led to the government shutdown. Lew said more than a month before the shutdown that there would be no compromising on the part of the administration.

Lew’s understanding of budget negotiations came under fire even before he became Treasury Secretary, when he incorrectly stated that Republicans would block any budget proposal because it takes "60 votes" to pass a budget.

It takes only 51 votes to pass a budget resolution. This did not stop Lew from repeating his mistake on three separate network shows on a single Sunday.

Chuck Hagel

AP

Chuck Hagel / AP

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had more difficulty getting confirmed than anybody else in the Obama administration.

Hagel did not help his case with a confirmation hearing performance described by both left and right as a complete disaster.

His way with words has not improved. He used the phrase "it’s complicated" so many times during his first overseas trip that the New York Times named it his unofficial mantra.

He also asked a professor of Indian descent during a University of Nebraska press conference whether he was a member of the Taliban.

Hagel’s Defense department recently put forth an outline for a future military that defense experts say would be unable to engage in simultaneous conflicts. Hagel has long expressed support for massive defense cuts.

Valerie Jarrett

AP

AP

Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser, has been called the "single most influential person in the White House."

Jarrett has been a financial backer of Barack Obama's political career since 2002. She now receives the top White House salary and is protected by a full-time Secret Service detail.

She enjoys a close relationship with Obama and is known as the "Night Stalker" within the White House for following Obama into his residence. She is known as "Rasputin" on Capitol Hill given the mystical power she seems to hold over the president.

Jarrett is willing to say nearly anything in support of the president.

On Monday, Jarrett tweeted a false statement in response to reports that the administration knew that millions would lose their health plans due to Obamacare.

 

Jonathan Chait of New York magazine wrote that Jarrett’s spin on the issue "goes well beyond the original, ambiguous promise into sheer absurdity."

Not only does Jarrett have Obama’s back, but the White House has her back as well. Prior to a harsh New York Times profile on her role in the White House, the administration prepared talking points defending Jarrett as the "perfect combination of smart, savvy and innovative."

Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder / AP

Attorney General Eric Holder / AP

Eric Holder has been attorney general for the entirety of Obama’s presidency and has been close with him for many years.

Holder worked in Clinton’s Justice Department and he himself did not believe he would ever make his way back to power after his involvement in the scandal-laced pardon of Marc Rich.

"I'm done. Public life's over for me," Holder said in 2001.

However, his loyalty to the president led to him being one of Obama’s first appointments. It has also allowed Holder to hang on to his post despite a myriad of new scandals.

Holder came under fire when it was revealed that the Justice Department was secretly spying on reporters.

He claimed ignorance when he testified to Congress, stating he was unaware of any potential prosecution of the press. After reports arose that Holder personally approved one of the warrants, an investigation was launched into whether he committed perjury during his testimony.

Holder also held a central role in the scandal surrounding Operation Fast and Furious.

Holder refused to turn over documents regarding the operation to a congressional committee, leading to his becoming the first member of a president’s cabinet to be held in contempt of Congress. Holder still refuses to turn over documents regarding the scandal.

Under Holder’s command, getting information has been difficult. The Justice Department has not challenged a single instance of a federal agency withholding records from a Freedom of Information request since 2009.