At a speech in Colorado someone asked if I was concerned about some of the appointees to the Obama administration. The questioner was referring obliquely to conservative dismay at Van Jones, special adviser for green jobs on the White House environmental council. Apart from a flirtation with radicalism (you have to hope it did not become a full, deep and continuing relationship), Jones, in February, thoughtfully attempted to capture the essence of the GOP in a speech in Berkeley, Calif. "Republicans are —," he explained. We don't print the word he used, but it refers to a body part involved in elimination. He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Rahm Emanuel Center for the Study of Political Comportment. Ha, just kidding.
But Mr. Jones is not my concern. All early administrations draw to their middle and lower levels a certain number of activists from the edges—flakes. But because they are extreme, they become controversial, and because they are controversial, they become ineffective. In its way the system works.
A greater concern about President Obama's staffers and appointees is that so many of them are so young and relatively untried. And not only young and untried, but triumphant. They're on top of the world. They came from nowhere and elected their guy against the odds. Against expectations, they beat a machine (the Clintons) and a behemoth (long-triumphant Republicanism). Now nothing can stop them, Let's do big things, let's be consequential. Consequentialism has been the blight of America's political life for a decade. Because of it, America's nerves have been rubbed raw.
To make things worse, for the past 10 months Mr. Obama's aides have been overpraised by their friends in the media, who either are on their side or were source-greasing. How can you not return my calls when I called you "coruscatingly brilliant" in Time? (Continues here at the WSJ)