I, like many progressives, was a tad skeptical of Obama's waiver of his much vaunted ethics rules for the nomination of William Lynn for deputy defense secretary. This flew in the face of his message throughout the campaign, his overall tone of government reform and ethical policy making, since Lynn is a registered lobbyist for Raytheon. Then I read this piece in Politico, which has since assuaged many of my issues- firstly the nominee dumped over $1 million in stock to serve;
That was no small issue for the Obama team, defense industry officials said, because defense officials, entering the Pentagon, are required by Congress to divest themselves of all defense industry investments.
In Lynn's case, he dumped well over $1 million in stock, said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell. "He took a substantial financial hit to serve the nation."
Also, much like Geithner, he seems to be uniquely suited for the position;
The focus on Lynn's time in the defense industry is misplaced, contends his former boss, John Hamre, now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lynn registered as a lobbyist out of an abundance of caution. He did oversee Raytheon's government affairs operations. But he didn't roam the Capitol or the Pentagon, said Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary.
"That's working with people like me in think tanks," he said. "That's not lobbying."
What's more important, Hamre said, is Lynn's experience at directing the Pentagon's investments.
Since 2000, Hamre said, the Pentagon hasn't done a good job at the task of planning how it invests its billions of dollars – charting the course of the Navy's shipbuilding efforts, for example.
"People don't really appreciate how central this is for the entire coherence of the Defense Department," Hamre said.
And it's especially critical now, when the economic crunch will force the department to scale back its current plans.
Though I have tried to avoid the cult of personality atmosphere on the Left since the election, I must say I see this as another sign that Obama is the right guy for the job. He understands when dumping ideology or partisan notions is required for the good of the country. Pragmatism was notably absent in the Bush administration, for example.
Imagine if Bush had caved to pressure and begun to scale down troops in Iraq like most of the free world wanted, instead of "surging"; or imagine Republicans in Congress avoiding the tendency to be obstructionists after a stinging electoral loss, and actually doing the right thing for their country. Notice the phoenix-like return of the campaign version of John McCain, coming out hard against stimulus proposals now that Boehner and Mitch McConnell have run lead block for the last few weeks.
What America needs right now is someone willing to do the right thing, even when it isn't fashionable. President Obama has been doing just that since his election, it seems, and taking on a uniquely-qualified guy willing to dump a shitload of defense stock to serve his country sounds like the right thing to me.