中国法律博客
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Obama's China Team Sitting on the Bench?
媒体来源: 中国法律博客

Some buzz has been generated by Edward Luce's FT piece on the Obama administration, specifically the president's tendency to rely too heavily on political hacks his core advisers at the expense of experts in a given area.

[T]he president draws on the advice of a very tight circle. The inner core consists of just four people – Rahm Emanuel, the pugnacious chief of staff; David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, his senior advisers; and Robert Gibbs, his communications chief.

This isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Bill Clinton was notorious, for example, of listening to perhaps too many people. If these four people are gathering opinions and information, distilling it, and presenting it thoughtfully to Obama, then I suppose that's OK for some policy areas.

On the other hand, you can't really expect these people to fulfill that role adequately in areas with which they have little or no experience. Of the four people, two are political operatives, one is a career politician, and the last is a businessperson with close personal ties to Obama. Three of them have the most experience with Chicago/State politics (Emanuel was in the US House for a while), and Gibbs hails from Alabama and is a career politico.

Would you rely on any of them to assist with foreign policy matters? And of the many foreign policy issues on the front burner these days, are any more important than the US-China bilateral relationship?

Prepare, therefore, to be amazed at this little nugget:

On Mr Obama's November trip to China, members of the cabinet such as the Nobel prizewinning Stephen Chu, energy secretary, were left cooling their heels while Mr Gibbs, Mr Axelrod and Ms Jarrett were constantly at the president's side.

The White House complained bitterly about what it saw as unfairly negative media coverage of a trip dubbed Mr Obama's "G2" visit to China. But, as journalists were keenly aware, none of Mr Obama's inner circle had any background in China. "We were about 40 vans down in the motorcade and got barely any time with the president," says a senior official with extensive knowledge of the region. "It was like the Obama campaign was visiting China."

Holy crap. I don't know how accurate the reporting was on all this, but I assume Luce verified the basic gist of this.

Obama has a pretty good China team working for him, not to mention other folks in the cabinet like Chu. To not utilize them is malpractice, particularly at a time when the headlines warn about possible trade wars, weapons sales, increased tensions, etc.

You have a high-profile visit to Beijing and you rely on professional political advisers from Chicago? Yikes.

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