I'm not sure what everyone has been thinking. Obama said he'd be bipartisan, weed us off dependence on foreign oil, negotiate with the world at large instead of attacking them and never, ever torture people. He also promised to cut taxes for that plumber guy and implement a sweeping change in our health care system and also inject a much-needed stimulus package into the economy. One would hope it would be called universal health care. Bush has left Obama with a complete disaster and I'm going to at least wait until he takes office and begins trying to dig us out of the ditch before I get too upset over his picks.
If you remember, during the general election Howie and I wrote a post called:
If only! Actually there are 39 Democrats with more liberal voting records, although Obama does at least beat perennial Bush rubber stamps Holy Joe Lieberman (CT), Ben Nelson (NE) and Mary Landrieu (LA). His voting record-- however you slice it, however you dice it-- points to a solidly mainstream centrist...read on
Obama has never said anything different in his campaign. There's been some rumblings in the blogosphere about Obama's choices to fill out his Cabinet so far. I like Christopher Hayes a lot, but I think he's wrong here. When did he promise a Cabinet full of Progressives? And Chris Bowers writes:
I really don't want to be pessimistic about the new Obama administration. Rather, I much preferred my optimistic mood from last night, discussing how the House seems to be moving in a more progressive direction, and how cutting military spending was a real possibility over the next couple of years. That felt good, and I want to keep feeling that way.
However, the apparent leading contenders for several top Obama administration positions continue to worry me.
Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff, Bob Gates possibly retained at Defense, Tom Daschle at Health and Human Services and Eric Holder at Justice. With the market dropping because of more economic bad news, Obama named Timothy Geithner as the nation's next Treasury Secretary. What do you know? With a little leadership displayed, Wall Street rallied.
I hated the pass that was given to Joe Lieberman, but that wasn't Harry Reid's fault. Obama decided to forgive Lieberman so that he would keep caucusing with the Democratic Party and to add another vote to help implement his agenda. A major reason why I wanted his gavel removed was his failure to investigate Katrina. For that alone, he should have been stripped of his chairmanship, but it's Obama's party and he makes the choices. Joe will probably play nice for the time being and Obama needs all hands on deck when he is sworn into office because of the devastation left behind by Conservatives and BushCo. But make no mistake, Holy Joe will eventually stab him in the back. Still, it was Obama's decision and Congress went along with him.
Holder is well respected in DC and on the left too and Obama couldn't care less if FOX News foamed at the mouth over his choice when it was announced. I say good for him. I had no opinion on Hillary being Secretary of State, but to me, it shows a lot of guts. I actually agree with John Dickerson's take on the nomination:
By picking Clinton, Obama may be making some kind of special political play, removing one of his rivals to protect himself from political harm, but I think he's more serious than that. There's been no evidence over the last two years that he engages in this kind of overly clever bank shot. It's more likely he's picked Clinton because she's smart and because he wants to surround himself with people who will challenge him.
Do you mean Obama shouldn't get a food taster and worry about a parallel government being run by Hillary? Matthews has been really going ballistic over this, but here's a little news for Chris: Obama ran his campaign about Obama. And this country is in terrible shape and I believe that he's trying to assemble what he believes will be the people that will Git-R-Done.
He's the change agent -- it's his vision and policy choices that will define him, not who he chooses for the Chief of Staff or any other position. I hope that he appoints only one Republican to his staff, if any at all. We've seen how Conservatives govern, especially when they re-brand themselves like Bush did and they say they are compassionate, so who cares what they think at this point? Obama has a lot of heavy lifting as soon as he's sworn into office so that's when I'll do the best I can to push forth a liberal agenda and try to hold him to those principles. The country has rejected Conservatism. So now it's our turn.
If you've been following the financial section lately, they are totally freaked out about what is happening there. Many seriously want him to actually succeed at all costs on Wall Street. Sure, the gasbags on TV will try to rip him, but the real money men behind the operations need Obama to be successful or all the cash they made off the backs of the working class will be gone. You know, just like has already happened to the working class.
Digby wraps it up with these thoughts:
I'm actually hopeful that he will not choose center-right policies (or at least not be able to choose them out of necessity)but I'm actually quite happy if they decide to consciously sell anything using the argot of progressivism, particularly movement progressivism, outside of the stump. One of the biggest challenges for the left is disrupting the soothing comfort people feel when they hear conservative bromides that have been so thoroughly internalized they don't even recognize them as political anymore. If you want progressives to have a long run you have to create a language of progressivism that becomes a default, mainstream way of thinking. Conservatives have been massively successful at that with things like "government isn't the solution, it's the problem" and "it's your money." People hear that and it just sounds ... true. Changing the rhetoric is as important to a movement as changing government policies.
So, if Obama is going to continue using the more progressive and populist argot that Sirota correctly observes politicians often use at election time, then I think it's good news for the long term prospects of the progressive movement.
As for the policies, we'll have to wait and see. I suspect that on the economy, it's going to have to be a hell of a lot more progressive than anybody dreamed it would be even three months ago. There are no conservative solutions to economic meltdown except just letting it happen -- and I don't think anyone expects Obama to do that.
Glenn Greenwald writes: Progressive complaints about Obama's appointments
I've been genuinely mystified by the disappointment and surprise being expressed by many liberals over the fact that Obama's most significant appointments thus far are composed of pure Beltway establishment figures drawn from the center-right of the Democratic Party and, probably once he names his Defense Secretary and CIA Director, even from the Bush administration -- but not from the Left. In an email yesterday, Digby explained perfectly why this reaction is so mystifying (re-printed with her consent)...read on: