My bold decision to withdraw from consideration as Obama’s CTO

To: President-Elect Barack Obama

From: Lewis Shepherd

RE: My Imminent Selection as Chief Technology Officer for the United States

Mr. President-Elect, I am hereby reluctantly but insistently withdrawing my name from consideration as your appointment to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer for our nation.

No, no, please don’t try to persuade me otherwise. My decision is final.

Analysis: My earlier post about John Brennan being President-elect Obama’s “imminent” selection as CIA director is now a curio, given Brennan’s decision yesterday to withdraw from consideration. 

Like any good intelligence analyst writing a balanced assessment, I had included the caveat that the only thing standing between Brennan and the appointment was the likelihood of a last-minute political squabble or contretemps.

This being Washington we’re talking about, that is precisely what happened. 

After a week of stormy attacks against Brennan in what most of the media are calling “the liberal blogosphere,” the culmination was – according to the Washington Post – that Brennan flunked a peculiar kind of psychiatric test: “Brennan’s withdrawal came three days after a group of about 200 psychiatrists and academics wrote to Obama opposing his appointment.”

As the Los Angeles Times today reports, “In a pointed letter to Obama, Brennan removed his name from consideration even while lashing out at critics, whom he accused of distorting his record on the controversial intelligence policies of the Bush administration.”  Many news outlets are carrying excerpts from the letter (full-text pdf here):

“The fact that I was not involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored. Indeed, my criticism of these policies within government circles was the reason why I was twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current administration only to be rebuffed by the White House.”

Newsweek’s “Terror Watch” online column concludes that now, “Brennan’s downfall could set a precedent that might make life a lot harder for Obama as he seeks to bring his own team to the intelligence community without offending his liberal base.”

Which brings us to the CTO position, and my rationale for withdrawing. No, the reason is not the political opposition I might face; after all, to my knowledge, I have not yet been opposed by any licensed psychiatrist.  (Let’s leave the unlicensed armchair practitioners out of this.)

The few cynics resident in Washington DC might also point out that I have not, as yet, been publicly named as a contender for the position.  Fiddle-dee-dee, say I, can’t Obama be allowed a surprise or two?

But let’s just get it all out in the open about my real reason for withdrawing, as Brennan wrote, “with profound regret.”

The real reason I’m withdrawing is that I love working at Microsoft and I’m very happy to stay at Microsoft, so the answer is no. 

(It’s entirely coincidental that last week, Eric Schmidt said, in a CNBC interview, “”I love working at Google and I’m very happy to stay at Google, so the answer is no” (“Google CEO on Obama tech czar job: No thanks“).

So I will continue on as the CTO of the Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments – certainly the best job I’ve ever held. As I depart the field, I leave the speculation to others on who will actually be tapped in my shadow, as our nation’s first CTO (Forbes.com, “Obama’s CTO” or “Politico, “Who Else will Join Team Obama?” or Red Herring, which actually has a running poll on whom should be selected and with hundreds of votes counted from site visitors, my friend Bob Gourley is in contention with Bill Gates and Bill Joy). I also leave to others, more importantly, speculation on what she or he will wind up tackling (Forbes.com, “What Obama’s CTO Should Do” or CTOvision.com, “The Technology Implications of the Obama Win“).

As for me, as the media trucks and camera crews depart my front yard, I look forward to the ever-popular pastime of “spending more time with my family.”  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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3 Responses

  1. Didn’t you use the same self-nominating/self-reluctantantly-withdrawing tactic in your long ago quest for the presidency of Yale? I never realized how closely related blogs were to stolen letterhead.

  2. Look, Ms. “Sharp” – if that is indeed your name – you talk mighty tough for a co-conspirator. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. […] My bold decision to withdraw from consideration as Obama’s CTO […]

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