Saturday, November 22, 2008
On foreign policy, at least, Barack Obama is irritating all the right -- by which I mean left -- people.
Mr Obama has moved quickly in the last 48 hours to get his cabinet team in place, unveiling a raft of heavyweight appointments, in addition to Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.
But his preference for General James Jones, a former Nato commander who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department has dismayed many of his earliest supporters.
The likelihood that Mr Obama will retain George W Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, has reinforced the notion that he will not aggressively pursue the radical withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq over the next 16 months and engagement with rogue states that he has pledged.
Chris Bowers of the influential OpenLeft.com blog complained: "That is, over all, a centre-right foreign policy team. I feel incredibly frustrated. Progressives are being entirely left out of Obama's major appointments so far."
Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos site, the in-house talking shop for the anti-war Left, warned that Democrats risk sounding "tone deaf" to the views of "the American electorate that voted in overwhelming numbers for change from the discredited Bush policies."
I admit, so far his cabinet picks are better than I had dared to hope. That is not the end of the story by any means. There are thousands of executive branch positions that we rarely hear about, many of which have enormous influence over important matters of policy. Plenty of those will go to very left wing people. Still, the first-string cabinet is a lot more centrist than I would have guessed on November 3, which is good news for the country and probably bad news for those Republicans who are banking on stupid lefty policy blunders to return them to power.
...and probably bad news for those Republicans who are banking on stupid lefty policy blunders to return them to power.
Probably so, but two things come to mind:
1) I hope Obama does well in foreign and security policy, and these appointments give me some hope that he won't wander off into the Progressive outback. I think you feel much the same way.
2) It's the economy, stupid. It's here that I think his "inner Henry Wallace" will come out and, while I hope for the best, I think we'll see a replay of the stagflation we saw under Carter, Geithner notwithstanding.
Point two leads me to think conservatives have a decent chance in 2012.
There's a parallel here with Bush.
As someone who knew primarily how to run a campaign (having done so for his dad), Bush came into office intending to act more as Chairman than CEO, and hired a bunch of people to help him toward that end as we see Obama doing here. He started out (as Clinton had) more concerned about being President than about doing anything substantive with the office.
The real GWB and his core values, which turned out to be further to the right on foreign and domestic security (though not economic) policy than the centrist image he had constructed for electoral purposes, emerged only after he was confronted with a challenge he felt personally (9/11).
Obama is very, similar in this respect except that his personal roots are deep in the academic and even the old Marxism-babbling left. It's still entirely possible or even probable that he will break hard left, once the reality of a sharp, long recession breaks through his 'Chairman of the Board' stance.
Where's the 'Change' we were all supposed to 'Hope' for? Mainly a bunch of Clinton-era retreads. The US has been in relative decline for decades while these guys have been in positions of influence. It is hard to get enthusiastic about the prospect of more of the same.
Admittedly, the soap opera aspect of this is fascinating. If it were a novel, we could all get enthralled by the coming twists & turns. Will the State Department which destroyed the credibility of Colin Powell & Condoleeza Rice do the same to Her Majesty? Will Obama suffer failure at home & see successes abroad co-opted by his once & future rival? Has Hilary's famous political tin ear put her in exactly the wrong place, leading to the end of her career? Will the Clinton's pull down the Democrat house when they go? If only this were a novel!
Emanuel is craftier than Rove ever was. Hillie is arrogant and dumb enough to leave her safe Senate seat to be Secretary of State. Within six months something will happen, her fault or not, for which she will be blamed. She'll be forced to resign and will never again bother Obama. Bill will also be neutralized. Then, Obama will appoint someone the anti-American, ultra-leftists will aplaud, some one like "Fifth Column" Feingold, Noam Chomsky or Bernie Sanders.
Interesting comment, Charles. Can you name a period in our history when, even for a day, we were not engaged in "political thinking"?
Given your thesis, what is the "State(sic)" that you lament?
I know you are going to say the "the world hates us".
I will pre-respond by celebrating that fact.
"bad news for those Republicans who are banking on stupid lefty policy blunders to return them to power"
Assuming that the single party rule will crash and burn is no way to run an opposition... they've got to reform themselves. But I don't think there will be room for new blood until old blood is purged.
"These comments (and post) are more reflective of a partisan (and possibly sociopath) political way of thinking that may well be responsible for the State the United States is in."
Read 'A Magnificent Catastrophe.' It's about the contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
The far left has to come to terms with the fact that they were USED by the One to get elected. Boo hoo.
Now let's see if the big zero can actually lead this country well. I didn't vote for him, but our country needs some good leadership right now.
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.