Fineman: Obama Brings 'Excellence,' Is 'Changing Everything as He Moves'

Catching up with Newsweek's Howard Fineman on Wednesday's Countdown, he came across as a parody of an in-the-tank for Barack Obama journalist as he gauzily proclaimed: “Obama's changing everything as he moves. His victory speech last night in Grant Park...was so memorable on so many levels.” Asked by host Keith Olbermann to predict “an overarching theme” for Obama's appointments, such as “competency, bipartisanship, diversity, newness,” Fineman went beyond Olbermann and trumpeted:
Well, it's going to be all of those. But I think, if you had to pick one, it would be excellence. Barack Obama is a guy who appreciates excellence and focus. He's a guy who appreciates results.
Fineman, the magazine's senior Washington correspondent and columnist, as well as senior editor and deputy Washington Bureau Chief, soon hailed Obama's expected team: “It will be naturally diverse and naturally bipartisan.”

From the Wednesday, November 5 Countdown on MSNBC:
KEITH OLBERMANN: First transition in wartime in four years, plus a recession already in progress, might this transition like this campaign itself recast how this whole thing is done by necessity?

HOWARD FINEMAN: Yes, and it has already. Obama's changing everything as he moves. His victory speech last night in Grant Park which was so memorable on so many levels was also the first speech of his administration three months before it begins. He said, we're at the base of the mountain, not at the mountain top, and exuded a core of sort of sense of sober "let's roll up our sleeves" determination you're seeing reflective in the fact that he got this transition system running two or three months ago, another example of this guy's ability to plan and look ahead, look over the horizon. They've been working for months on this, Keith, just as they worked for months on the campaign itself before anybody noticed.

OLBERMANN: The names that we mentioned here, they are just some of many possibilities that have surfaced for the new administration. It's all over the place. But what will be, is there going to be an overarching theme in the appointments? We discussed this last night, competency, bipartisanship, diversity, newness, where are they going?

FINEMAN: Well, it's going to be all of those. But I think, if you had to pick one, it would be excellence. Barack Obama is a guy who appreciates excellence and focus. He's a guy who appreciates results. As we reported reportedly, doesn't like drama queens, doesn't like egomaniacs, doesn't like leakers -- which eliminates about three–quarters of the people in Washington for sure.

And that's what he's going to focus on. It will be naturally diverse and naturally bipartisan. He's not going to pick people to fit slots because they're Republican, because they're an African-American, because they're Hispanic. He believes that the country has changed enough and developed enough and is diverse enough, as his own election has now shown, that he can pick the best people all across the spectrum and will reflect the whole country. But it's going to be excellence first and experience.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center