Monday, November 24, 2008


Barack Obama, is not, and has never been where I'd like him to be on economic issues. That was the main reason that I had favored John Edwards before he dropped out of the primary and subsequently revealed himself to be a self obsessed douche. Obama has used a fair amount of populist rhetoric in his speeches, most notably when he accepted the nomination, but as for advisers and policy, he has always been very clear about where he stands, and what type of policy makes him comfortable.

That is completely fine. He telegraphed his beliefs on these issues throughout the primary and we shouldn't be surprised. At one point after the primary when some on the left complained that he "straying" from his beliefs, he asked"have you listened to any of my speeches?", and he couldn't have been more right. He's honest to the core, and you can't ask for anything more than that.

With that being said on economic policy, one of my greatest hopes for the Obama presidency was Foreign Policy. From the offset of the primary, I was hugely impressed with his FP team, which seemed eager to challenge the conventional wisdom that put us where we are today, centered around a criticism of the Iraq war. And not to attach too much of this thinking to one person, but the presence of Samantha Powers alone made me favor his approach more than any of the other candidates. Even when his rhetoric on his overall foreign policy plan tacked to the right during the general election, I just looked at it in the same way that I did his populist rhetoric. Until the people who craft things behind the scenes changed, I wouldn't take it too seriously.

Here is the team he has chosen to implement his agenda:
Secretary of Defense: Robert Gates

Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton

Secretary of Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano

National Security Advisor: General Jim Jones (BALLLLLLLLINNNNN!!!!!!!)
I'll start by saying that I like Napolitano in that role. The homeland security post will largely have to manage and clean up a pretty crappy bureaucracy, and since she's been a pretty good governor, that seems like a nice fit.

But what else can we say about the group?
When you look at that list, it makes you ask a few questions:

When you campaigned on your foreign policy judgment, why do you choose to surround yourself with people who clearly don't possess that same good judgment?

When you won the primary and the election in large part due to your opposition to the Iraq war, why do you surround yourself with people who all supported it?

When you hear people talking about teams of rivals, doesn't that imply there will be a rival?

I felt like I knew what to expect from his economic team (and later on today, we'll know officially how right or wrong I was), but this foreign policy team is downright disappointing. While they are all at his command and will execute his agenda, I simply don't understand why you assemble a conservative team unless you were planning on making your policy much tamer than it originally seamed.

1 comment:

  1. Very sad, but I can't say I am remotely surprised. I also don't expect any progressive policy - foreign or otherwise - out of this administration. I do expect it will be more civilized and diplomatic, and that the practiced and excellent use of symbolism and rhetoric will go a long way to restoring our position in the world - as long as we don't screw that up by turning Afghanistan and Iran into bombed out parking lots.