President-Elect Barack Obama held a news conference this morning to announce his core group of National Security appointments. Impressive and bipartisan, the team signals a dramatic shift in American policy, or as the President-Elect put it, "a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century."
"And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning -- a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world: democracy and justice; opportunity and unyielding hope -- because American values are America’s greatest export to the world."
I also included Obama's response to a question about the so-called "Team of Rivals" and how he will ensure that his team will execute his vision, despite any lingering ideological differences or high-profile personality clashes that may exist amongst them. This is exactly why I have not been among those on the left and right who are criticizing any of President-Elect Obama's choices. To me, the most important aspect of assembling a Presidential cabinet is valuing competence over anything else. As he made crystal clear, he chose this team -- and they all decided to accept his nominations -- because he believes they are best prepared to execute his policies and, echoing the phrase made famous by Harry Truman, ultimately "the buck stops with him."