WASHINGTON (CNN) — Behind the scenes they're tearing out their hair.
Nominees for top positions in the Obama administration say they are put on seemingly endless hold for months during the "vetting" process, forced to provide minute details of their financial, personal and professional lives going back years. Many have to hire lawyers and accountants – paid for with their own money – to compile the information. Some nominees have simply given up in frustration.
Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it's affecting U.S. diplomatic relations.
"It's hard to explain in my position to our foreign counterparts that we don't have positions filled that would be the natural interlocutors or their counterparts in other countries," she said Thursday.
It's the third time this week the secretary has lambasted the process. Monday, she called it "frustrating beyond words," telling staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development who still don't have a new administrator, the process is a "nightmare."
Wednesday, in a major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton was at it again: "I mean, we are trying to get our political leaders in place to work with our very dedicated Foreign Service and Civil Service employees, but we're still not there yet. And I had no idea when I was in the Senate asking a million questions of every nominee – how really shortsighted that was."
Thursday, at a press availability, the Secretary told CNN, "Most (foreign) governments, after they are elected, are up and going in a relatively short period of time. We are now six months into our new administration and it's not only here but across the government where they don't have critical positions filled. I think it's pretty obvious that the process has gotten much more complicated, cumbersome and lengthy and that is something that I hear from everyone. And it is a matter that we're going to have to address."
Clinton added that it's not just the Obama administration and it's not happening just at the State Department or USAID. The situation has been getting worse with every administration. But some political observers say President Obama's new ethics rules make it even more challenging to get through the process.
In spite of the frustration, at the USAID town hall Clinton managed to find some ironic humor in the predicament: "… here's one of the questions you get asked: first of all, you have to remember everywhere you've lived since you were 18. And, beyond a certain age you can't even remember when you were 18!"
Interesting, all this red tape and details from a president who has yet to provide proof of his birthplace. Details that are a REQUIREMENT for a position as senator, let alone president of the United States. I challenge anyone, trying for any job that asks for a birth certificate and/or college records to say, "I choose not to provide them"; and see if you get the job. Why has our government allowed this, and continues to look the other way on such an important matter while at the same time, requires this level of personal detail from other less important political positions?
Bobby July 17th, 2009 12:02 pm ET
Hillary sometimes its better to take your time and get it right the first time then to rush and keeping do something over and over again. This administration learned this lesson early with the Secretary of Energy position. Also, we got your message the first time, so time to move on and focus on something more compelling, like war and peace.
Bobby, you are absolutely correct. BHO want to take this so painfully slow that they do not make a mistake and appoint soeone who maybe didn't pay a few thousand dollars in taxes.
However, when it comes to spending a trillion dollars on health care reform he want to ram the legislation through Congress and have a bill on his desk BEFORE the August recess.
BHO – typical hypocrite.
This is precisely why Obama is appointing so many czars (over 30 so far). it circumvents senate confirmation. Not good and he is no doubt creating a shadow government accountable only to him and not we the people.
Is Hillary laying the groundwork for quitting already?
Tell it like it is Hillary and we hope you go for it again in 2012.
obama just needs to hire everyone as "czars" to avoid that pesky vetting process.
How hypocritcal of you Obamabots to say the "its important to think it through and not act hastily" to defend Obama's incompetence in this area while at the same time you defend the fool when he rushes through massive spending programs that have not been thought through at all.
Last time I checked her gig required her to be the ultimate diplomat.
Instead here's you know what in her coming out !
Here we go...
YOU GO GIRL...The President that never was...(sigh)
@ the idiot July 17th, 2009 11:10 am ET
If they were vetted realistically, no one would qualify for the Obama administration. They need to get drug tests. Check out what is happening in Chicago and then realize how many Chicagoans are in the administration and realize also that dear leader himself was a "community organizer" there before his annointment by George Soros, ACORN and the unions. What did he organize death squads.
Could not have picked better online name for you myself. Yep. THE IDIOT descibes you perfectly!
obviously the vetting process can't be that bad – seeing how she's secretary of state...
Well Miss Clinton, history shows that too lax of a vetting process results in idiots like Sarah Palin almost becoming our Vice President! And that in and of itself wouldn't have been good for anyone! Just ask John McCain.
Bill, Bloominton IL July 17th, 2009 12:04 pm ET
Welcome back to the republicans in 2012 as we watch the democrats implode. Democrats would not listen to the idea that Hillary would not be able to take marching orders from anyone. Hopefully the Blue Dogs who are the smartest democrats in Washington will stall healthcare until the republicans are back and my healthcare will not be changed.
Fortunately that's not going to happen, otherwise nobody elses would change or improve either. I realize your health care is far more important than all the rest of the people in the USA combined. So screw them as long as you Bill of Bloominton il are taken care of.
I agree with GI Joe. Shut up CNN! You just love to use Clinton for sensational journalism. I call that shameful tactics for a reputable news source. Are you related to the Enquirer?
Ethics is something Hillary has never heard of.
This will give you an idea of how it will be with government run health care! What a joke
Wow, just wow. Such poor choices for this past election and it's showing. Time for a viable third party. The two party scam is about up.
I was cleared to handle "top secret" material in 1970. In preparation for it, I had to list everywhere I had lived since 1935 (I was born in 1947). Some of my addresses were on rural routes with no box numbers. One was in a foreign country, and I could show you where I lived and tell you the apartment number but little else since I could not speak the language. No matter, that apartment has been destroyed by an earthquake and many of the shacks I lived in as a child have been demolished. To the point, some of the requirements for being "vetted," particulary the one Clinton joked about, are not new.
Okay so Hillary is quick to criticize the administration. When are we going to hear something out of her over the State Dept's. NO vetting and deaf ear to complaints about treatment of exchange students through agencies supposedly overseen by HER State Dept....when will we be hearing your big mouth about that, Miss Hillary?
@Dutch/Bad Newz, VA July 17th, 2009 11:15 am ET
The process is a nightmare because The Party of Obstruction is scrutinizing everything. Everyone is under a magnifying glass.
Loving how you are flat out ignoring the disorder in the dem party! Explain how this vetting process has ANYTHING to do with the GOP! This vetting process has been put in place by te President . The GOP has NOTHING to do with this. The nominees have issues with the intrusive questionaires! Please explain the GOP role in this! You can't, because there is none!
It is so much fun to watch the incompetent, crooks that stole the last election implode. The only problem is that they are taking the nation down with them. Hopefully we will be able to start pulling it out of this insanity in 2010 and then either impeach the community organizer or send him back to organize something in Chicago in 2012.
Obviously, given the early blunders BO made with his initial picks, all people with scandals that caused them to drop out from consideration, the vetting process wasn't robust enough. I say vet away, because I am really suspicious of this awful, naive president with an agenda to destroy America and punish hardworking, taxpaying people for the benefit of useless, lazy parasites – most of whom if they bothered to get off the couch voted for this monster.
CNN, it's a vetting process, not an "Obama Process. Hillary is vocal and honest about it because she knows it's nothing personal against the President. It's a tedius process instituted by advisors that is affecting her ability to do her job. Obama would probably agree with her.
Actually, those with longer memories than what they ate this morning should remember each cabinet member Obama tried to bring on that failed the vetting process because of associations, tax problems, etc. When run of bad choices, bringing to light the corruption in the government, I think this long and detailed vetting approach is a good thing, as long as it's done with the intent to weed out the bad apples.
It should go a bit further and tell the American people why each person backs out of the process to bring even more transparency about those making decisions for us. If they are backing out because they aren't paying taxes, but are passing legislation forcing everyone else to pay taxes, i think it's important for us to know that there is a double standard (a.k.a corruption) going on in our government.
@ Doug, New Jersey
Slick Willie with his cigar was a somewhat respectable Democrat?
Bush, Cheney and the Clintons are the most corrupt people in this country!