Tuesday, June 10, 2008<

Vetting

It will probably fall on deaf ears, but Obama is 100% right on this whole Jim Johnson kerfuffle. He says:
I am not vetting my VP Search Committee for their mortgages. You’re going to have to direct – it becomes sort of a – this is a game that can be played – everybody, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships. I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters. I mean at some point, we just asked people to do their assignments. Jim Johnson has a very discrete task, as does Eric Holder, and that is simply to gather up information about potential vice presidential candidates. They’re performing that job well. It’s a volunteer, unpaid position. And they’re giving me information, and I will then exercise judgment in terms of who I want to select as a vice presidential candidate. So these aren’t folks who are working for me, they’re not people who I have assigned to a particular job in a future administration. And ultimately, my assumption is that this is a discrete task that they are going to be performing for me over the next two months.
I know anything related to the subprime mortgage crisis is toxic right now, but we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and this is it. Jim Johnson has a discrete task. He is not making policy, nor in a position to influence Barack on policy. He's been asked to do a simple information gathering task (one that he has done before for other candidates). And, in the end, he is responsible to Barack.

The case would be different if Jim Johnson were an advisor to the campaign on mortgage matters, because then he might be in a position to influence policy in a way that might be favorable to himself or his friends (like say, Phil Gramm).

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