I'd been meaning to write something about how all the cheering at the supposed brilliance of Obama's cabinet picks was reminiscent of the huzzahs that greeted George W Bush's peronnel choices. But Ezra Klein has beaten me to it:
"Isn’t it amazing," asks Krugman, "just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing. For a bunch of people who were written off as a permanent minority four years ago, the Democrats look remarkably like the natural governing party these days, with a deep bench of talent." That certainly feels true. But the Bush administration started out with a fairly deep bench. Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Paul O'Neill --a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and a past chairman of the RAND Corporation -- as Secretary of the Treasury. Columbia's Glenn Hubbard as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice providing foreign policy expertise. Indeed, the Bush team was lauded for being such a natural entity of governance: These were figures from the Nixon and Ford and Bush administrations, and they were backed by graybeards like Baker and Scowcroft and Greenspan. What could go wrong?
Now of course this doesn't mean that the Obama administration is going to go down the tubes like the Bush one did. But it ought to remind everyone - including those who should not need reminding - that there's no sure thing in these matters and that at least some of Obama's appointees are likely to prove disappointing. That's just the way it is. One trusts, however, that their disappointments will be less grievous and less damaging than those of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell et al.
UPDATE: Megan argues, however, that Obama's economic team is much more impressive than Bush's first-term appointments. Which is just as well since they've got a heck of a job to do.