Placing too much emphasis on pragmatism could leave the Obama team rudderless and without intellectual cohesion.
“Pragmatism has its place, but there are limits, as well,” said Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
“If you aren’t anchored to a political philosophy, you get blown about, and government becomes ad hoc and you make it up as you go — and if you’re not careful, you begin to go in circles,” said Wehner….
By Alec MacGillis
President-elect Barack Obama wrapped up his Cabinet appointments yesterday, meeting his ambitious holiday deadline by assembling a team full of outsize personalities with overlapping jurisdictions and nominees who are known more for pragmatism than for strong leanings on the issues they will oversee.
In Chicago, the president-elect announced his picks to lead the Departments of Labor and Transportation, the Small Business Administration and the office of trade representative. The announcement of the labor nominee, Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-Calif.), the daughter of a union family who has a strongly pro-labor voting record, came as a relief to some liberals who had grown slightly anxious about Obama’s commitment to organized labor’s agenda. “She’s an inspired choice from a working-class background, who represented a working-class district with middle-class sensibilities,” said AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuels.
Ken Salazar (L) speaks while US president-elect Barack Obama listens during a press conference to nominate Salazar as Secretary of the Interior in Chicago. Obama Wednesday filled out his incoming cabinet with nominees to take over the agriculture and interior departments, two hot-button jobs where controversy is never far.(AFP/Nicholas Kamm)
But many of Obama’s other picks reflect his apparent preference for practical-minded centrists who have straddled big policy debates rather than staking out the strongest pro-reform positions. Their reputations as moderates have won Obama plaudits….
By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Writer
has wholeheartedly embraced experience in choosing his Cabinet.
That may seem at odds with the president-elect’s campaign theme of “change we can believe in.” But some Democratic activists and nonpartisan analysts say it makes sense, given the dire economy and public anxiety.
Obama has tapped senators and representatives, governors and veteran bureaucrats to help him confront the challenges of two wars, a crippled financial system and a deepening recession.
“In uncertain times, Americans find it much more comforting that the people who are going to be advising the president are steeped in experience,” said Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker. “A Cabinet of outsiders would have been very disquieting.”
To be sure, Obama’s inner circle includes far more veterans of elected office and federal agencies than government newcomers.
More so than his recent predecessors, he has drawn heavily from the Senate for top advisers. His choices for secretary of state (Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York), interior secretary ( of Colorado) and vice president (Joe Biden of Delaware) were fellow senators. Tom Daschle, named , was the Senate Democratic leader from South Dakota until he lost his seat in 2004.
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