SUMMER OF SETBACKS

Obama's Lonely Administration

President Obama's had a tough summer, but he's also playing without a full team. Of more than 500 of his top appointee positions that require Senate confirmation, fewer than half have been filled, in part because the White House grew more cautious after disastrous confirmation attempts in the spring. A few of the high-level positions left empty: assistant Treasury secretary for financial markets, inspector general, Army secretary, and the head of the Agency for International Development. Hillary Clinton has expressed frustration at the slow vetting process. “The clearance and vetting process is a nightmare,” Clinton said last month. “And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words.” Assembling a new administration is a difficult and slow process for any president. Eight years ago, George W. Bush received the now-famous "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." memo when he still didn't have most of his national-security team in place.