Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Defends "Clinton Cabinet"

With progressives (and cynical conservatives) criticizing his Cabinet nominations as Clinton redux, Obama responded to the complaints at a press conference today. Defending his appointments, Obama said:

I suspect the American people would be troubled if I selected a treasury
secretary or a chairman of an economic council at one of the most critical
economic times in our history who had no experience in government whatsoever. .
. What we're going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. . . .We need
people who will be able to hit the ground running. . . .
This is a pretty good comeback, which was already previewed by some media even before today's press conference (see this article). That would be an unassailable response if it did not use the losing argument that Clinton used in the primaries -- that she was "ready to lead on day one." Also, John McCain's experience was used against him; rather than benefiting him, his long exposure to government made him "out of touch," "more of the same," and a quintessential Washington insider. He could not "change" anything because he had already been around too long (and things still needed to be fixed). The commercial with vintage footage of McCain arriving in Washington as a young man captures the point I am trying to make. This argument appealed to younger voters who often described McCain as an "old man." They were not being affectionate.

I love Obama's response though. It is a great political narrative. And most Americans have such a short memory that they probably do not recall most of the campaigning at this point. Also, I have always believed that experience matters; and judging from his cabinet and recent statement, Obama does too.

But one problem I have with this defense is that it means that politicians are either complete opportunists who lack a commitment to values of their own (e.g., conservative Gates working for progressive Obama) or that Obama is far more moderate than his campaign and many of his supporters have described him. Which explanation works for you?


shag carpet bomb said...

Do I have to choose? :)

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

No you don't!

Anonymous said...

I am a Black American (Not African-American, because this is what Obama is said to be. He has a true African Father and American Mother. Anyway, I did not vote for Obama. Neither did my Black American Wife. We have six children, and if they were old enough to vote, they would not have voted for him. You see, our government is not what it use to be. Democrats/Republicans....they are pretty much the same. I believe that powers to be have already preselected their leader. I told many people 8 years ago that Hilary Clinton would win the presidency. People asked me how I even knew she would win. I advised them that Clinton/Bush are great friends and their establishment has been in power for 20 years. They would further a twisted agenda. 8 years later, Clinton "did not win the Presidency," and I couldn't explain how I was wrong! But now it makes sense. I wasn't wrong. Look at his cabinet. Look at his key positions. Clinton did win! I was right. Politically, I've been right for quite some time. This is not change. It's re-cycling. If Obama needed to pick these folks for "experience" he should have stepped down this time around for presidency. But a softer image and "change" needed to be created to throw people off. This is not change. Not when you keep Bush's military defense secretary on board...all of them should be fired! From one black man to another. I will not hide behind RACE or Political Parties. Same boss, different face.

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