Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama's Ethics Rule Waiver; Hypocrisy or "Big Picture" Move?

Two days after implementing sweeping new ethics rules President Obama has decided to waive a provision regarding former lobbyist to bring Mr. William Lynn into the Administration to fill the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense. This move attracted immediate criticism from people on both sides of the aisle. The Administration's reasoning was clear and concise:

"Because Mr. Lynn came so highly recommended from experts across the political spectrum, the president-elect felt it was critical that he fill this position," said Obama Transition spokesman Tommy Vietor.

“After consultation with counsel to the president," said Director of the Office of Management of Budget Peter Orszag in a statement, "I hereby waive the requirements of Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Ethics Pledge of Mr. William Lynn. I have determined that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver given Mr. Lynn's qualifications for his position and the current national security situation"

Though appearing to be worthy of the criticism it has received, I would argue that it is a classic Obama move and reflects his focus on the big picture. The two highlighted portions of the statement: "it is in the public interest" and "and the current national security situation"
are indicative of the results oriented thinking process President Obama has continually demonstrated. He created a new set of ethics rules to accomplish his Presidential mission. A critical part of the mission is to keep the American people safe and he believes that appointing Mr. Lynn in this position is the most effective move he can make to accomplish this goal. Therefore he must make a decision as to which is more important, the rule or the goal. It would be imprudent to appoint a lesser qualified person to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense, possibly making the unit less effective,just to keep from breaking a non-binding ethics rule, not a law... but a rule. When considering that this position is critical to the safety of our nation, what reasonable person could argue that the rule is more important.

The rule is part of a process which is designed to accomplish a mission, in this case national Security. President Obama is clearly a man who believes in rules and order, but being a results oriented thinker I doubt that he would ever hesitate to waive a rule if it would compromise the success of the mission.

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