Speculation

One problem I’m having is deciding how much to write about various Cabinet related speculation pieces. On the one hand, there’s real policy merit related to who gets put where, but at the same time, mst of the information we have to go on is just rampant speculation, and Obama could pull out new people for various posts. Kevin Drum sums it up:

….I’m a little torn about whether I should blog more about transition scuttlebutt. On the one hand, this stuff matters a lot for the future course of the administration. If Robert Gates is Secretary of Defense or Tom Vilsack is Secretary of Agriculture, that says a lot about the tone and direction of Obama administration policy.

On the other hand, I’d guess that about 99% of these rumors are completely bogus, just random guesses from people with only a tenuous connection to the transition team. In that sense, reacting to the rumors is just dumb. It’s the kind of thing that makes us all supider, not better informed.

I think a lot of this boils down to who you are, and what it is you do. For example, I’m a guy who owns a website for the purpose of putting my analysis and opinions on everyone’s favorite series of tubes to be read by passerby. That includes analyzing policy, and things that impact policy, and potential cabinet appointments certainly do that. So as long as we’re talking about credbile possibilities, I’ll probably opine here and there.

On the other hand, it makes no sense whatsoever for people who consider themselves reporters to be obsessing about these sortsof things. Much like rampant veepstakes speculating, it’s all irrelevant at the end of the day because we’re going to find out anyway. This is not the sort of thing that can be kept secret for very long, and indeed there’s not really any reason to keep it under wraps. When Obama decides who he’s going to appoint to State, or Defense, or Treasury, or any other department, he’ll tell us. There’s no reason for “journalists” to be spending any time on this, other than that it lets them avoid doing real work, and it gives them an opportunity to show off their connections. And that’s what it really boils down to. The ultimate beneficiary of, say, Andrea Mitchell “breaking” the story that John Edwards was going to be John Kerry’s VP pick isn’t the viewer, having to wait another few hours to find this out wouldn’t have adversely impacted anyone at all, nor did knowing it earlier add any level of understanding or knowledge to the discussion. Rather, it was Mitchell who benefitted by demonstrating that she talked to people who knew things the media wanted to find out. Which is great in and of itself, except that what the media wants to know is a bunch of “stories” that don’t enlighten the public in any way.