Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The big question: Will Obama be hands-on or hands-off?

The single biggest question about the upcoming Barack Obama administration is whether Barack intends to be more of a hands-on manager or more of a hands-off executive focused on the big picture and selecting staff that he can trust to "do the right thing". I think he leans towards the latter, which is why his staff and cabinet appointments are so important, but that is more of a supicion on my part. He appears to have let David Plouffe and David Axelrod handle most of the details of his presidential campaign while he focused on the vision and big picture stuff, all to good effect. So, my suspicion is that we will see more of the same. Sure, he will be the ultimate decision maker, but the most important decisions will be the initial hiring decisions.

I am most anxious to see who Barack picks to head Treasury.

The Pentagon will be another early, high-interest pick. I suspect that Barack does not want to "run the war" from the Oval Office, but would prefer a "SecDef" who shares his vision and is ready to "just do it."

It will be interesting to see how Barack decides to divide up global repsonsibilities between State and the Pentagon, and then what role Biden will play in that scheme. And, of course, it will be quite interesting to see what kind of person gets picked for National Security Adviser.

Then there is the issue of who will be "point man" for Health Care reform. Sure, it could be the Health and Human Services secretary, but maybe it might be useful to keep the "reform czar" separate from the "keep the trains running on time" head of Health and Human Services. Tough choices to make here. What role Hillary and Ted Kennedy will play remains to be seen, but I suspect their roles will be strictly within the Senate and that Barack will pick a young go-getter, but I have no idea who that could be.

Another interesting question is how many corporate executives from the private sector will be tapped for some of these high-profile positions. Unfortunately, so many executives these days are distinctly "old guard." This means that Barack could tap one or two levels down in the corporate hierarchy to get to the younger rising stars.

Finally, Michelle Obama might have one or more high profile policy roles, rather that simply being First Lady and First Mother.

-- Jack Krupansky


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