There has been a lot of concern, as of late, about Obamas appointments. For the first 'progressive' president in a generation, he has been appointing staff from across the political spectrum, ranging from Robert Gates, the current Republican Secretary of Defense to stay in office, and rival Hillary Clinton coming in as Secretary of State.
Barack Obama kicked off his presidential campaign by writing a book, Audacity of Hope about this topic. It was an eloquent, and passionate screed against the ‘smallness of American politics.’ How the government today is so fossilized by partisan disputes today it is crippled. Not only is there a Republican/Democrat divide, but there are the extremes in both parties fighting to assert dominance. Obama burst into the national scene targeting this very topic, in his 2004 convention speech (“There is not a red America, and a blue America. There is the United States of America!”). The thesis of that entire book was that this partisan rancor has to change, and that can only done by meaningfully bridge the gap. In other words, get ‘buy in’ and advisors from across the political spectrum.
Obama suggested he wanted to change these political litmus tests (talk about audacity!) but knew he needed to win an election in a partisan society, so he ran a campaign dominated by vague phrases so he could be anything to anyone… Change & Hope (as if everyone else was pushing Stagnation & Despair). He’s said himself in his books and speeches, that people perceive him to share their values even if he doesn’t. There is something about his charisma that makes many of us (myself very much included) feel he agrees on everything important without him ever actually saying it. Obama ran on a feeling… and feelings are not legally or politically binding.
So, contrary to the Obama that I (and many liberals) felt was running, the Obama that is starting to assert himself is the one that he told us he would be. Although he has been against the Iraq war since he ran for the Senate he asked Hillary Clinton, an unapologetic supporter, to run the state department (the office that plans our foreign policy.) Today she can walk into a room and say ‘I, like most of you, supported the war. Now we need to get out.’ It’ll be an opportunity for political redemption for people across the political spectrum, even for those that had the spectacularly bad judgment to get us in the mess in the first place. The main thing that the ‘extreme anti-war liberals’ will have to show from this appointment is an end to a horrible, expensive, bloody never-ending war.
Personally, I think that counts for a lot.