November 22nd, 2008
12:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama's vetting could chase away candidates

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team is subjecting prospective employees to rigorous vetting.

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team is subjecting prospective employees to rigorous vetting.

(CNN) - When it comes to vetting potential high-level advisers, is President-elect Barack Obama too cautious for his own good?

As a presidential candidate, the former Illinois senator quickly adopted the nickname "No Drama Obama" for the meticulous level of prudence he applied to nearly every campaign speech, strategy decision and personnel appointment. The result was a nearly two-year-long presidential bid most notable for its seeming lack of a damaging gaffe or embarrassing misstep.

But some political observers say the president-elect's similar caution with respect to recruiting new administration officials and key high-level advisers may be turning away a string of qualified candidates wary of subjecting themselves and their families to the most rigid presidential vetting process on record.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Brian

    You anti-Obama people are hilarious. He is vetting people the way he is supposed to. Just imagine if McCain vetted some of his picks.

    November 22, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Barbara

    I say hooray for a tough vetting process. If McCain had vetted Palin in this manner she never would have made it to the position of humiliating herself, the republican party, her family and the American public. I say good for B. Obama for doing things the right way. If the potential candidates can't take the heat, we don't want them running our country anyway.

    It is unfortunate that because he is the first black president elect, and because this country is (being left by the Bush man and corporate greed) in such a bad state of affairs everything he does will be scrutinized in a way no one else has every had to endure.

    November 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Oh we go...

    It seems from some of the negative comments that nothing President-Elect Barack Obama does will make some people happy. I think it is great that they are vetting these people. I feel more comfortable with a transparent governement and members of the Executive Branch having good backgrounds. For those who continue to say negative things toward every thing President-Elect Obama does, you can't change the fact that he is YOUR president TOO. STOP being ANTI-AMERICAN with your comments! He was elected fairly unlike President Bush in 2000!

    November 22, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. In North Carolina

    Coultergeist November 22nd, 2008 3:21 pm ET

    ...What a sad state of affairs, when being educated, intelligent and caring about who to give extremely important jobs to is looked at badly.

    I find it interesting how so many in this country we love want to have elected officials who are uneducated and uncaring to represent them. I like a leader who is diplomatic and intelligent. Considerate of others and want others to succeed.

    November 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. KJL

    I'm with him on this issue. We've had enough graft, shoe tapping, insider trading, page hustling, and whatever in government. If these candidates don't have the courage to own up to the skeletons in their closets, to heck with them. Obama expects people to be human, with pasts and vices, but he doesn't want scoundrels and he doesn't want any surprises.

    November 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Diing in Washington

    Remember, Obama was widely criticized for acting presidential by his opponents throughout the campaign. Now, he is being criticized for being meticulous!. Guess what, he was criticized for speaking complete sentence in the 60 minute last week. God!, how do you satisfy these people?

    November 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Steph

    The people who are interested in these jobs know they will be vetted. We need the best and brightest to get us out of this mess (or I should say "messes") It isn't like they are applying to work at McDonalds. DUH!

    November 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Please Post

    The "naysayers" on this post against Obama and vetting are just jealous that they are not being vetted. It's only been 3 weeks since the election and you people are complaining already. We have had 8 years of Busheconomics of which I believe there was some people in that cabinet that probably were NOT vetted which is the reason why we're in this mess now. So let Obama handle his business! Let the vetting process begin.....whatever it takes to get the country on track.

    November 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. Leetinkie

    If he runs off some of the "GOOD ONES", WHY is he picking some of "THE WORSE"???

    Only trust Congress WILL NOT confirm some already picked!!!

    November 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. B. McCain

    Hello! Why are you criticizing the President-elect on careful scrutiny of those that will take important offices in the national cabinets? This is what we should applaud for a President -elect. He is taking his responsibility seriously. Have we become so shallow as to think that fast decisions, or politically "correct" decisions, are the norm? Did we want him to automatically add his nod to a list made by those that desire political favor? Why can't the media add verbal applause for the careful, precise qualities of leadership for which he was chosen and thus help to calm the alarms of the media driven citizens, who are very much influenced by your comments. Remove the pressure, America is not in need of the stoking of any fires of false importance that would drive such criticism by the media. Instead, why don't we get on our knees and pray for the decisions President-elect Obama will have to make in the next month and a half, because they will affect each one of us in this country, even the media as private citizens. Let him lead in the responsible way we should expect of such a man.

    November 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. NOT SO FAST...

    No Drama? or No CHANGE.

    Well, I thought this kind of alleged so-called rigorous "vetting" was a cover to ensure that the already accepted "crooks and liars" of the Democratic party monopolized the key positions: ie. the NEOLIBERAL DISASTER CAPITALIST-FREE-MARKETEERS (i.e. the Democratic versions of them), Clintonistas, etc.

    This serves as a guarantee to prevent any needed change as well as to keep the true PROGRESSIVES – the ones who elected Obama – locked out – as they are the only ones who would envision and create it.

    Not that this alleged "vetting" or these actual cabinet selections were Obama's "choices" as I would bet that they were made for him early on.

    We're not STUPID.

    November 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Ed T., Salt Lake City, Utah

    Isn't that why we elected him? I didn't vote for him because he was black...I voted for him because he is intelligent and will get us out of this mess through strategy. If a canidate is not willing to subject themselves to the honesty and creditibilty vetting process then do we really want or need them for the job? This country hasn't had enough vetting of politicians in this country and it is about time someone is holding them accountable...This is exactly what I expect from my President!!

    November 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. tigerakabj

    What kind of a question is this? If they can't handle the vetting process, then that means there is something to hide. The American people do not need any corrupt politians running this country anymore, especially during a time of economic crisis such as this.

    I also hope Obama tells anyone coming on board that, if they are married, do right by your husbands/wives. We don't need any personal scandals erupting. I'm glad Obama is making sure any weeds aren't in his garden.

    November 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Charlie in Maine

    Oh me oh my Obama's strictness and uncompromising honesty has scared off a few huh? Let's just imagine for a moment that George W Bush had the same standards............... maybe he could have sacred away Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzolez, Brownie (heck of a job) shall I go on? Give me a break. Obama wants the best and the brightest of either (or neither) party. Obama doesn't have to be the "smartest person in the room" but he wants to make sure that the smartest available is there with him. Who knows? If Sen. McCain had employed a similar vetting process he might have "scared away" a certain Alaskan Governor of questionable ethics, and he could be measuring the drapes today.

    November 22, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. jim

    If it is scaring them away. Then most likely they have something to hide.

    It is easy to be irresponsible than responsible. Being irresponsible does not take a lot of work. But being responsible does and is more preferred because they will be pointing the finger at him if he doesn't. Prevention is better than no prevention. More time to work on crisis than employees skeletons in the closet.

    If Obama had not learned from the mistakes made in the past he would continue to make missteps.

    I am with him on this. He and his cabinet are not perfect but they are working hard to heal America and get everyone back on their feet to being a prosperous country again that the Bush Administration have destroyed. Which did not take Bush long to tear down in 8 years.

    November 22, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. rm

    If they are afraid to be vetted then they have something to hide and we don't need them. This article is dumb.

    November 22, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. rm

    @E.C. Coleman:

    Do you have dementia or something? This article has nothing to do with Nancy Reagan. Take a nap.

    November 22, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Obama '08

    To Paul Hackett>>>>GET OVER IT! McCain lost.

    November 22, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Jean2

    Vettibg should be taken seriously. There are good honest Americans available that can servive vetting.

    November 22, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. Patriot

    Very proud of President-elect OBAMA.

    Looking at the ditch BUSH and his administration has brought us into, OBAMA's approach is reconforting, refreshing and hopeful.

    Just awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 22, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Debbie

    Chasing away qualified candidates? IF they dont make the vetting, then they are not qualified! I dont understand how difficult that is.

    I think he is genuinely tying to do as transparent a government as he can, and if his team does not vet, some reporter will find something and it will be all over the news in hours.

    More power to him. I take this as a real change in the way he is going to work.

    November 22, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. O. Berube Gollop

    This is for E. C. Coleman who posted at l2:52, PE Obama jokingly stated that he contacted living presidents and not dead ones a la Nancy Reagan psychics. There is no room in government for psychics, etc. Nancy Reagan firmly believed in them and did nothing ever unless she contacted her (whoo Hoo) people. That is a laughable situation and was well worth the remark he made.

    November 22, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. pam Eugene OR

    If McCain had used just a very small part of the vetting questions Obama is asking he might be getting ready to choose his cabinet for the next four years!
    We all saw the disaster Palin caused McCain by not being vetted.
    I am very pleased that the people Obama is getting ready to hire on our behalf are being looked at so closely.
    Keep up the good work Barack. I am so proud of my vote!

    November 22, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Deb, Allentown,PA

    Wow, EC Coleman, are you kidding? First of all, it was what, 2 weeks ago? And secondly, it was a non-event. You're one of those people who will never be happy with anything that Obama accomplishes. I wonder what it is about him that scares you so much.

    November 22, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Bush didn't vet, but instead handed jobs to his pals without credentials. See how well that worked?!

    November 23, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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