[I]t is a bit mystifying that there have been as many complaints from the left about Obama's appointments as there have been. Surely they understood, as I have come to understand, that he is an establishment-accommodating, consensus-oriented politician, so how can anyone be all that surprised or upset? That is how he won, and that is how he has ascended so quickly in politics. . . . There are two distinct questions here. It seems to me that there should be fewer bewildered cries of betrayal, because there should have been no illusions about Obama, but there should be far more criticism of Obama's selections and decisions when progressives find them dissatisfying for well-founded reasons. In other words, there ought to be even more criticism of the probable Brennan selection, but much less gasping in surprise and asking, “How could Obama do that?”-- ROSS DOUTHATIt was apt in a small way that the first endorser of Hillary Rodham Clinton for secretary of state should have been Henry Kissinger.-- ROBERT STEIN
My working model of the distinction between the Clinton and Obama campaigns during the primary was that the Clinton campaign was somewhat more boldly progressive on domestic issues, notably health care, and quite a bit more conservative on foreign policy. At the end of the day, this seemed to cut in Obama's favor, as the executive has fairly little autonomy on issues like health reform (Congress decides it), but quite a bit on foreign affairs.Since winning the election, however, Obama's choices have demonstrated rather the opposite.-- EZRA KLEINIt's out of flavor with the post-racial times, but I'm going to say it: I'm struck by the number of black people who are going to be working in the White House. I know these aren't cabinet-level jobs (excepting Holder) and maybe Valerie Jarrett will do an awful job. But I was taken aback watching a black woman lay out the agenda for the next president on "Meet The Press" a few weeks back. Maybe Holder is a complete bum, but look, I come out of the era of Rodney King, and from time to time will still play "Fuck The Police." Forgive me for having an emotional reaction to the top-cop in this country being a black man. I have been very hard on people who expect the mere sight of Obama as president to alter some things in the black community. Have I been too hard? I need to think more about how this makes me feel. On an emotional level, I'm sorry, it's fucking stunning.
. . . Millions of cynical Americans have long felt deprived of a voice in their government – and here comes this guy who vows to open the doors. As a senator, Obama's sponsored a bill (it’s now a law) that he calls "Google for government," because it allows anyone to type a few key words and find out where their tax dollars are going. Obama has even talked about allowing C-Span to film his health-care deliberations (although I'll believe that one when I see it). Clearly, his instinct is to lower the barriers between president and populace.
But as for this idea of engaging in a two-way online conversation, with feedback from citizen participants . . . well, we shall see about that one. Speaking from first-hand experience, I can stipulate that the online world is particularly unruly, a virtual Wild West where the perpetually aggrieved shoot first and think later, if at all.
. . . The point is, Obama may well discover that the power of the web can’t be harnessed from Washington, not even by a majority president riding a wave of good will.
-- DICK POLMAN
Photograph by Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press
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