They wanted him to appoint left wingers. He hasn’t.
So what to make of this?
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama, rejecting liberals’ criticism of his emerging cabinet, today strongly defended his decision to choose more experienced, centrist aides for his inner circle, arguing that the nation needs sure hands in a time of turmoil — and that it’s his job to bring the change he promised voters.
At a press conference to introduce his economic advisory board, Obama said it would send the wrong message to the nation if he stocked his cabinet with newcomers, especially given the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deepening economic crisis. Veterans, he said, bring the wisdom to help him shape his agenda and the know-how to execute it.
“What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking,” he said in his most detailed comments on the issue. “But I understand where the vision for change comes from. First and foremost, it comes from me. That’s my job — to provide a vision in terms of where we are going, and to make sure then that my team is implementing.”
Honestly, if Obama is angering liberal critics now, this probably bodes well for his administration and the promise of bringing unity to Washington. Because, like he says, he’s leading the call for change, but in order to do that he has to have people who know Washington in order to do that. And if he were to take the first term Clinton model and start appointing people nobody knows, those folks would face institutional barriers that would prove counterproductive. Yes, there’s a risk that these appointees won’t be able to bring about change, but I think it’s much more likely that insiders will be able to user their existing networks to signal to everybody that change is coming.
In other words, you can’t turn this town upside down right off the bat, and if liberals don’t get that then they don’t get how Washington works.
More as it unfolds…