Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Appointment Disappointment

I am not surprised by this in the least, but I am certainly disappointed with Obama's appointments thus far.

As far as I can tell, there is not one true progressive in any major position. Obama seems to think that he represents the progressive wing of the party and thus all his picks can be to the right of him. Or to the right of where we think he is.

This is not cool. But again, I am not surprised. I was really curious as to what would happen when progressives realized that Obama is not really one of them. He's been a centrist from the beginning, or at least ever since he left community organizing. Last spring, near the end of the semester, some students asked me who I was supporting in the primary. I just said that I prefered to be disappointed by someone new. And indeed I am increasingly expecting that.

While I really like Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security (although several people have made compelling arguments that for the good of the party she should have stayed in Arizona), the rest of the appointments are indifferent to bad from a progressive point of view. Offering Clinton the State job is a good political idea and I guess it is OK. But no more than that. Gates at Defense is infuriating for several reasons. The financial team is made up of the same people who got us into this mess. Moreover, where's the Secretary of Labor? How much does Obama really care about the concerns of working people? I'm not seeing much evidence that he does thus far.

Moreover, where are the Latinos? Obviously, there are none in major positions. Richardson will get Commerce it seems, but that's not much. Raul Grijalva, the congressman from Arizona, would be an excellent Secretary of the Interior, and is a favorite to get the position. But if Obama really wants his cabinet to look like the face of America, he needs to include Latinos too.

David Sirota has a nice piece on this as well. He says:

In fact, there already is - it's no accident that the conservative noise machine from Karl Rove on down is praising Obama's appointments, and effectively creating that rightward pull. If there isn't similar progressive pressure now, don't be surprised if the debate - and thus the policy - starts slowly creeping right. As Chris Bowers notes, even Bill Clinton understood the value of progressive pressure - and noted that without such pressure he was forced to the right. That means progressive pressure benefits Obama by helping him play off it and define the progressive center his campaign promises embody.