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Left Wonders if Obamas Team Will Reflect Them (MSM plays up drama)

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:16 PM
Original message
Edited on Mon Dec-08-08 04:19 PM by ProSense

Left Wonders if Obamas Team Will Reflect Them

Published: December 8, 2008

CHICAGO President-elect Barack Obamas appointments have tilted so much to the political center that they have drawn praise from the likes of Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh. That alone would seem enough to set off a revolt in his liberal base. But a month into his transition, many on the political left are trying to hold their tongues.

In assembling his team to date, Mr. Obama has largely passed over progressives, opting to keep President Bushs defense secretary, tapping a retired general close to Senator John McCain and recruiting economists from the traditionally corporate, free-trade, deficit-hawk wing of the party. The choices have deeply frustrated liberals who thought Mr. Obamas election signaled the rise of a new progressive era.

But so far, they are mainly muting their protest, clinging to the belief that Mr. Obama still means what he said on the campaign trail and remaining wary of undermining what they see as the most liberal president sent to the White House in a generation. They are quietly lobbying for more liberals in the next roundof appointments, seeking at least some like-minded voices at the table. And they are banking on the idea that no matter whom he installs under him, Mr. Obama will be the driving force for the change they seek.

Its a great question one that many of us have been trying to avoid, said Representative Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona, the incoming co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, when asked last week how liberals view Mr. Obamas team. The euphoria of the election is still there, and still there for me. Its not a question of benefit of the doubt. Its a question of trust, and I trust that were going to be moving in the right direction.

As it happens, Mr. Grijalva is the focus of some of that trust. The Obama transition team has let it be known that he is under consideration for secretary of the interior, and many liberals have made that possible nomination a litmus test for whether Mr. Obama really is serious about including them in the top echelon of his government.

Others are swallowing concerns about personnel to concentrate instead on policy. Some see a New Deal for the 21st century in Mr. Obamas plans to push an economic recovery program that would devote hundreds of billions of dollars to infrastructure projects, social safety net programs and environmentally friendly industry.

He ran on such a progressive agenda, if hes not breaking away from that, if hes getting centrists to implement it, well take that, said Robert L. Borosage, president of the Institute for Americas Future and once a top adviser to Jesse L. Jacksons presidential campaign.

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the influential Daily Kos site on the Internet, said it is way too early to begin judging Mr. Obama. Some people may be nit-picky about his choices but at the end of the day, hes going to make better choices than John McCain would have made, he said by telephone. There will be a time to push him but as far as Im concerned, Im going to wait to see what it means on a policy basis, not on personalities.

Some of Mr. Moulitsass fellow bloggers, though, have been less patient. Why isnt there a single member of Obamas cabinet who will be advising him from the left? asked Chris Bowers on his site, Kevin Drum, writing on the Web site of the liberal magazine Mother Jones, echoed that sentiment: I mean, that is why most of us voted for him, right?

In a piece for The Washington Post on Sunday, David Corn, the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, wrote that progressives are depending on whom you ask disappointed, irritated or fit to be tied. But he added that theres no rebellion yet at hand and Im not yet reaching for a pitchfork because the left still is hoping that Mr. Obama will hijack the establishment to advance liberal causes.


(emphasis added)

Now that's funny.


Obama appears to be doing two things: setting up an administration to implement the vision he laid out and trying to ensure that he establishes a lasting movement. After the 1992 elections, Democrats got crushed in 1994 when 9 Senate seats switched to Repub. If Obama acts quickly to implement his vision without alienating people, I can see gains in 2010 and 2012. Cabinet positions will likely change hands, but keeping Democrats in the Senate and picking up more seats is key. At the very least, Obama can maintain the strong Democratic majority throughout his first term.

43 Days Until Inauguration

edit title.

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:11 PM
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1. Right can't get over Obama's massive win

Obama's Election Was a Fluke!

Naomie Emery's new Weekly Standard article, "Mandate for What?," is one of the sillier and more transparent efforts I've seen to argue that, despite Barack Obama's resounding victory, his agenda is out of the mainsteam. Obama's "win on Election Day was enhanced and inflated," she writes, "less by the appeal of his agenda and party than by conditions not of his making, and by circumstances beyond his control."

Emerie argues that McCain was on course to win the election until Lehman Brothers failed:

Hard as it is now to remember, in the first weeks of September, McCain had been forging ahead. He led in most of the national polls, led in the swing states, was winning independents, women, and Hillary voters, and extending his range into enemy country, turning some blue states pale pink. In a deep hole since the 2006 midterms, the generic numbers for the Republican party had even begun to edge up. A Gallup poll released on September 11 showed the Republicans with a 4-point lead in the generic ballot. And then came September 15.

So really it was what Emery calls the "peculiar conditions" of the Lehman failure, and not Obama's agenda, that helped him win. Now, as I wrote in a recent column, no election is never a pure referendum on policy. But this particular attempt by emerie to portray Obama's election as abnormally contingent is hilariously unpersuasive.


Emery concludes by arguing that Obama knows his win was a fluke, as evidenced by his centrist actions since being elected:

This is why Saxby Chambliss improved on his lead, why Obama refused to be drawn into the run-off in Georgia, and why, after campaigning against the whole Clinton-Bush era, he is bringing back some of its people and policies, adopting the Clinton economic team and some of the Bush guidelines for the war on terror, and giving the prize spots in his national security roster to George Bush's defense secretary, John McCain's ally, and Bill Clinton's wife. Peculiar conditions padded his lead, but he has to govern the country as it exists now and in the future, and not as it was in that brief span between September 15 and the fourth of November that is now in the rearview mirror and quickly fading into the past.

Ah, so Obama appointing moderates and following through on his campaign foreign policy platform is proof that he's outside the political mainstream. Somehow I think that if he abandoned his campaign pledge to increase troop strength in Afghanistan and appointed Ralph Nader Treasury Secretary, Naomie Emery wouldn't take it as evidence that Obama really does represent the political center

It's going to be fun watching the RW squirm.

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