The more things change, the more they stay . . . well, you know. And looking at President-elect Barack Obama‘s top appointments, it’s easy to wonder whether convention has triumphed over change — and centrists over progressives.
By David Corn, Washington Post
A quick run-down: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who supported the Iraq war until she initiated her presidential bid, has been handed the Cabinet’s big plum: secretary of state. And Bush’s second defense secretary, Robert Gates, will become Obama’s first defense secretary. The Obama foreign policy adviser regarded as the most liberal in his inner circle, Susan E. Rice, has been picked for the U.N. ambassador slot. Obama is elevating this job to Cabinet rank, but he’s still sending Rice to New York — and in politics and policy, proximity to power matters. For national security adviser, Obama has picked James L. Jones. The retired four-star general was not hawkish on the Iraq war and seems to be a non-ideologue who possesses the right experience for the job. But he probably would have ended up in a McCain administration, and his selection has not heartened progressives.
Above: Hardly a new model roll out. President-elect Barack Obama takes questions from reporters during a news conference in Chicago, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, with, from left to right: Attorney General-designate Eric Holder; Homeland Security Secretary-designate Janet Napolitano; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Vice President-elect Joe Biden; Secretary of State-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; National Security Adviser-designate Ret. Marine Gen. James Jones; and United Nations Ambassador-designate Susan Rice.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Obama’s economic team isn’t particularly liberal, either. Lawrence H. Summers, who as President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary opposed regulating the new-fangled financial instruments that greased the way to the subprime meltdown, will chair Obama’s National Economic Council. To head Treasury, Obama has tapped Timothy F. Geithner, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, who helped oversee the financial system as it collapsed. Each is close to Robert Rubin, another former Clinton Treasury secretary, a director of bailed-out Citigroup and a poster boy for both the corporate wing of the Democratic Party and discredited Big Finance. Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board will be guided by Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman whose controversial tight-money policies ended the stagflation crisis of the 1970s but led to a nasty recession. (A genuinely progressive economist, Jared Bernstein, will receive a less prominent White House job: chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.)
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