To the Editor:
What a terrific essay on Barack Obama’s appointments — savvy and insightful, one of the most balanced I’ve seen. Yes, Obama will progress “leftward” by steamrolling through the middle, hiring Beltway expertise that knows how to get legislation passed and new programs up and running. I couldn’t agree more conservative Blue Dog Democrats have been the steady obstacle to innovation and better ideas, on par with partisan conservatives.
Obama’s embrace of Hillary at State may ultimately backfire (no drama meets high drama? pragmatism meets ego?) but should pay big dividends, as you detail, for opening gambits, maybe longer. I don’t anticipate whatever conflicts emerge will be about policy or philosophy but method and urgency. I wonder about the president-elect’s “insurance” policy against predictable problems with Bill Clinton and his acolytes.
The report this morning Melody Barnes will head the Domestic Policy Council, addresesing education, immigration, criminal justice, and health care, is welcome news for those worried about the many centrist picks. What I hope for is Obama disturbs traditional terms and frameworks, refocusing ideological language into that applicable to practical solutions which will look like amalgams. That is, I expect major Obama programs to be ecumenical, to integrate liberal, progressive, centrist, even conservative ideas. That blending represents the best way to obliterate the gridlock models afflicting our overall ability to acknowledge, let alone resolve issues that have recently shifted from problems to crises. The urgency of the tasks, and the wide recognition by all, will be Obama’s friend, giving him full sway for many months.
That prospect of transcending entrenched categories is what makes Obama comparable to FDR — as a president who knows how to work politics, how to help the huge majority Americans, and how to reform capitalism in order to save it. Is there much doubt more Bush-think would doom the very free-market W. claims to defend.
What a pleasure to anticipate a president with the necessary skills who knows how to rethink government, especially adapting our frames of reference, and save our entire system, economic and Constitutional, from the Bush Era.
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