The Spectacle Blog

McCain’s Hiring Practices

By on 9.22.08 | 12:27PM

As Quin mentioned below, after saying he wanted to fire Chris Cox as SEC Chairman, McCain said he wanted to appoint Andrew Cuomo to replace him. There isn't much rationale behind either choice beyond McCain wanting to show, in the case of Cox, that unlike Bush, he holds people accountable, and in the case of Cuomo, that he would be a bipartisan leader willing to appoint a liberal Democrat who disagrees with him on almost every issue to a key position. But it really does raise questions about what type of people McCain would appoint as president, which seems to be dictated by odd whim, rather than thinking about who would be best at implementing policies that he publicly supports.

I remember back in January, I asked McCain on a conference call how he could reconcile his strong support for Israel, with a statement he made that he would consider sending James Baker over to the region as a mediator. Baker is a long time critic of Israel who believes the nation should be forced into making deep concessions, who claimed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was an obstacle to stability in Iraq and argued that Israel should give land to Syria to pacify Baghdad, and who believes in talking with Iran. Now, you can agree or disagree with Baker, but one thing we know -- McCain has the opposite view on all of those fronts, at least based on his voting record and public statements. Thus, it really made no sense to me why McCain would want to tap Baker for such a position. But when I tried to get an answer from McCain, he was mostly defensive, because he took my question as if I were questioning his own support for Israel. The only thing he said about Baker was that he had "great respect" for him. (Interestingly, the word "respect" came up when he mentioned Cuomo.)

Even the VP decision seems to have been a bit quirky. Most reports suggested that McCain really wanted to pick Joe Lieberman -- somebody with vast foreign policy experience who would be unacceptable to conservatives. But when he realized that he couldn't do that, he seemed to go for the polar opposite selection -- somebody who has no foreign policy experience, but who energizes conservatives.

Regardless of what his policy proposals are, at the end of the day, McCain's appointments will be what matter, because those are the people who will actually implemenent policy. But the signals he has given us during the campaign are so idiosyncratic, that we really have no idea what to expect from his administration.

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