Oh come on. Yes, if you're okay with the status quo, William Lynn is perfectly well qualified to be the Deputy Secretary of Defense. But I thought we were supposed to have entered a new day. In fact, both Obama and McCain were competing as to who was going to be the biggest reformer. And Obama did come out of the box with what appeared to be transformative ethics and openness standards.
But why balk at implementing them at the Pentagon? It is ridiculous to argue that the only people qualified to run this agency are those who have come from the military-industrial complex. Why undermine the weight of these reforms by waiving them when they really matter? Now that President Obama's giving waivers, how do we know he isn't going to waive his revolving door restrictions when officials leave his Administration, a la Clinton?
Moreover, what exactly makes Lynn "uniquely qualified"? Being a lobbyist certainly doesn't give one the significant management experience the Deputy Secretary of Defense will need. And one could argue that anyone who has been in charge of the Pentagon's finances over the past couple of decades should not be asked to come back.
I would suggest that President Obama go outside the typical channels and consider successful business leaders from sectors that actually do have their house in order. There are people who have run multi-billion dollar companies with good management and accountability track records. Why not try one of them?
Senator McCain (R-AZ) has slowed the confirmation process by requesting answers from Lynn regarding exactly what his recusal will entail. (Yes, I saw McCain on the Sunday morning talk show saying that, although he's disappointed, he thinks it's likely Lynn will be confirmed--but a girl can dream, can't she?)
If, in the end, Lynn is confirmed, I hope he and any other future recipients of ethics rule waivers are required to compensate for their pass--maybe a permanent recusal from matters involving their former employer while serving as a public official?
-- Danielle Brian