Sunday, November 30, 2008

A plea for the non-expert

I'm gonna go a little "george bush" here, and suggest that perhaps having a cabinet and advisory team composed only of vetted, tested, degreed, published experts is not altogether the best idea.

I don't agree with every appointment Barack Obama has made, but I can understand the rationale behind each. He always seems to get some one on the team who is really smart to complement the person who is the politcal veteran.

And hell, no one's happier than I that Samantha Powers is back on the team.

But what appears to be missing is the common touch. And I'm not talking about Sarah Small-Town or Joe the Plumber. I'm talking about non-politicians, non-bureaucrats, non-Ph.ds, non-Ivy leaguers, non-DC veterans, like a longtime teacher, or the founder of a non-profit that serves a community, or a family practice physician, or a small-business owner, or a veteran reporter, or a veteran who could add some street credibility to all the high-falutin ideas that are about to be thrown around in the Obama White House.

Who would I like to see Obama talk to on a regular basis?

I think, like Truthout, that Michael Pollan is not a bad idea (thanks Susan Campbell for suggesting this). But there's plenty more where Pollan came from, people who don't necessarily have the time or inclination to run for office, but who have the time to share ideas and perspectives, especially with someone like the president, who can get so terribly insulated from the real world.

I'd like someone on the cabinet who would just ask, "Could you explain what you mean?" when some expert comes up with a great plan, or is willing to say, "That doesn't make sense to me." Because what we're finding out, as if we didn't already know, is that the experts don't always have the answers.

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