Four months past the election, Obama’s basic problem with staffing is that he doesn’t know many people – not in the sense of having worked closely with them on a successful project so that he can tell who is effective and who is an empty suit. He’s not exactly Dwight Eisenhower, who came to office with a list in his head of the strengths and weaknesses as managers of hundreds of potential appointees. How many successful projects has Obama been part of other than his own self-advancement? The Chicago Annenberg Challenge? That didn’t do anything for test scores. Getting (some) asbestos out of a public housing project? Woo-hoo!
So, Obama has mostly been appointing four kinds of people: Chicagoans he knows, ex-Clintonites he read about in the newspapers during the 1990s, campaign aides, and random people who sound cool. He doesn’t know anything about economics or business, so his weaknesses at staffing Treasury are particularly glaring.