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Wag the Blog: Is the Obama Cabinet Too Conservative?

Is Obama's Cabinet too conservative? Photo by Jim Watson of AFP

Earlier this week, Steve Hildebrand, one of the key field generals in President-elect Barack Obama's presidential campaign sparked a firestorm among the liberal commentariat when, in a piece for Huffington Post, he sought to defend the incoming president against charges that his Cabinet picks to date have been too moderate/conservative.

Wrote Hildebrand:

"This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren't progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn't the way he thinks and it's not likely the way he will lead."

The response was swift -- with more than 2,000 comments on the piece already registered.

Jane Hamsher, a leading member of the netroots who blogs at Firedoglake, was one of the loudest critics of Hildebrand -- writing that the critics of Obama's appointments to date "have legitimate concerns that people like [Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy] Geithner, [incoming head of the National Economic Council Larry] Summers and other [former Treasury Secretary Robert] Rubin acolytes created this mess, and it's reasonable to ask why they're being appointed to get us out of it."

For today's Wag the Blog question, we want to hear your thoughts on the ideological bent of Obama's Cabinet picks to date and whether the criticism being launched at them by some on the ideological left is fair or unfair.

The best/most insightful comments will be featured in a post of their own later this week.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 11, 2008; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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OK,so Barack Hussein feels he owes Bill Clinton a job for his wife but Sec of State? First she has to show us what she can do as a Senator. She never did spend much time in New York to accomplish anything. Lots of baggage also. As a matter of fact he has the whole Clinton clan in his cabinet. I'm waiting for Monica. Too conservitive? No. Too Socialist? YES. God Help and pray for America.

Posted by: SouthernCross2 | December 18, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

It seems as if Obama will inevitably face criticism either way--from cynical conservatives playing on his message of "change" to deride his picks as too liberal, or from liberals disappointed that his choices aren't liberal enough. What would a rational actor do in this situation? Choose a field of moderates--exactly as he is doing.

Posted by: lavidadulce | December 16, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his Cabinet have yet to take their offices; none have made a single decision or policy, thus, it's impossible to judge the political bent of Obama and his cabinet.

However, progressives should take notice that Obama never campaigned as a liberal. Indeed, the "liberal" label came from the republicans. Further, many liberals projected their ideals on Obama...for example, Obama's opposition of the Iraq war was taken out of context by liberals as they assumed it meant he was anti-war. In fact, Obama's opposition to the Iraq war had to do with his concern that Bush and Cheney were ignoring the threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bottom line: if liberals are disappointed in Obama it's of their own making...Obama never told them he was one of them.

Posted by: txgall | December 13, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Politically, I think he's made some very smart picks.

Although I read that Nobelist Steven (Sec. of Energy) Chu has been funded by British Petrol.

But is anyone surprised that Obama hasn't installed any black Muslim theologians ala Rev Wright?

Where's Louis Farrakhan or Dave Chappelle?

Big disappointment!

Posted by: Al_Dr | December 13, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Bank of America and Mr. Higgins missing $millions, It can happen to you, my fellow Americans

More info:

Posted by: srmaxhiggins | December 13, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Bank of America and Mr. Higgins missing $millions, It can happen to you, my fellow Americans

More info:

Posted by: srmaxhiggins | December 13, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I would have to say, since they all adhere to socialist policies, that no, they are not too conservative...too socialist, yes, too conservative, no.

Posted by: totalkaosdave | December 12, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

AngryLiberal -- either you're a neo-con in disguise trying to stir up fabricated division or you're Nader voter who would have never voted for Obama anyhow. This whole notion of staffing a cabinet based on your quota system in lieu of the appointees' merit is absolute lunacy. If that is the definition of "Liberal" count me out!

I'll take pragmatic action-oriented individuals who target solutions over the paranoid, unfocused, gripe fest that has come to embody the disaffected progressive movement any day.

After all, the idea the Nader could accomplish anything akin to Social Security, or the GI Bill, or actually grapple with climate change is just plain laughable given his utter failure to run a single successful campaign. But then again where there's a market for whining there’ll always be whining demagogues!

Posted by: htruman | December 12, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Having run on a platform of "change", it is pretty funny to see all those old faces there. Too conservative? Not for me!

Posted by: techherding | December 12, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

what is important is Obama's ability to set an agenda and keep his representatives tracking that course. The only cabinet member mentioned so far that would NOT feel inclined to engage the policies of Obama is Rodham Clinton. The good news is she will be similar to Conde Rice,,,,, love the parties, no energy or inclination for cleaning up. So... eight more years of more settlement building if she can keep her lies to a minimum and somehow dodge all the Wall Street and Hedge Funds she is involved in. Not likely... could anybody imagine if we had a real diplomat at State to mitigate all the world hot spots. One day... and that person will get us back to a George Marshall.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | December 12, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the cabinet isn't just that it is too conservative, it is that it is too conventional. We had a chance to vote for experience in both the primary and general elections and we didn't. We voted for change. We could have gotten this cabinet by voting for Clinton - and some of them by voting for McCain. I feel like the country took a risk by voting for someone with such limited experience and we are not getting paid back for it.

The pundits keep telling me that the people Obama has chosen are "smart" but the kind of thinking they represent has contributed to the problems we are in. He has chosen people who were wrong about Iraq and wrong about deregualtion. How smart can they be? There are people outside Washington who are capable and experienced and smart enough to have been right about the two most important issues facing the country. Why are they not being tapped? I don't trust these people to fix problems they were not astute enough to see coming.

Posted by: jenn1967 | December 12, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama's cabinet and his inter-circle appointments are refreshing for the south who wrongly dubbed him as being far to the left on most issues.

We hope Appalachia is paying attention to Obama's picks because Appalachia may soon realize Obama is no different than us, we are all Rural Democrats.

It shows that Obama is working for the country instead of the left wing faction of our Democratic Party. It is refreshing to see a politician working for America instead of cowering to our Democratic political machine.

Many liberals think Obama has abandoned them after they worked so hard to get him elected. Well hopefully they realize that Obama was elected by the people not by a single political ideology.

We should expect a stern no nonsense first term from our President and he is for once a Democratic President for all the people NOT a stooge for any single group in our Democratic Party.

We should applaud his decisions as being politically responsible and praise him for being open minded. Obama does represent hope for many Americans, now he has a chance to represent hope for all Americans and the world, not just a select few.

William Shackleford

Posted by: theruraldemocrat | December 12, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

During the campaign, the conservatives hurled around accusations based on a flawed study that Barack Obama was the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. In response, the liberals pointed to Obama's campaign platforms and said that while he comes down on the liberal side of a lot of issues, he's a smart enough cookie to realize that going way off to the left on everything won't accomplish diddly squat and that he'd have to use a moderate approach to achieve the kind of change he said he would achieve, even with Democratic majorities in Congress.

Fast-forward, and now the liberals are criticizing Obama for not deploying the way-off-to-the-left approach they kept saying prior to Nov. 5 he wouldn't deploy. Meanwhile, the conservatives are ignoring the evidence that they were wrong and are now trying to tie Obama to Rod Blagojevich based on assumptions 1,000 times more scurrilous than those that led to the "most liberal member of the Senate" allegations.

Ah, politics.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | December 12, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse


They're not out to 'Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States' but to Destroy It!

U.S. Now Only 2 States Away From Rewriting Constitution

Critic: 'This is a horrible time to try such a crazy scheme'

Posted: December 12, 2008
12:25 am Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

A public policy organization has issued an urgent alert stating affirmative votes are needed from only two more states before a Constitutional Convention could be assembled in which "today's corrupt politicians and judges" could formally change the U.S. Constitution's "'problematic' provisions to reflect the philosophical and social mores of our contemporary society."

"Don't for one second doubt that delegates to a Con Con wouldn't revise the First Amendment into a government-controlled privilege, replace the 2nd Amendment with a 'collective' right to self-defense, and abolish the 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendments, and the rest of the Bill of Rights," said the warning from the American Policy Institute.

"Additions could include the non-existent separation of church and state, the 'right' to abortion and euthanasia, and much, much more," the group said.

Posted by: AJAX2 | December 12, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Being the first black Bush is change enough for these Kool Aid libs.

Posted by: ii00 | December 12, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

It is not too conservative for me. I am relieved that "post-partisan" rhetoric may have actually meant something. I am gratified that he has shown respect for the uniformed services with the Jones and Shinseki choices. Keeping Gates is what I hoped he would do. Chu is potentially a blockbuster choice. Richardson at Commerce is the most biz-friendly D Gov in America, and knows the foreign players, as well.

I repeat: it is not too conservative a Cabinet for me.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 11, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Allen13 hit it dead on-

I am from the left wing of the party- Obama never represented the left wing of the party- and I never got why the left wing jumped on board so early- he was to the right of Edwards, Kucinich and sometimes even Richardson and Biden and his domestic policies were less ambitious/progressive than Hillary's. But once he became the nominee- we had to support him, regardless of him coming out more clearly for uncomfortably right-moderate positions (FISA, death penalty, NAFTA, gun control, faith based initiatives, campaign finance, likely detainee legal rights currently). Involvement/Engagement is the only way that we can drive the agenda leftward--


Posted by: nycLeon | December 11, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me the Pres-elect remains the thoughtful, pragmatic unifying post-partisan man he's always been. Lately, we've heard that Senate seats aren't for sale. Well, the best interests of the country aren't either (anymore). Obama will continue to choose the best person for each position, regardless of party or ideology. The forthcoming energy secretary is a prime example of this.
If the left wingers of the Democratic Party thought they owned this man, they were wrong. And that's a whole lot better than the last eight years, when the hard right, neocon, private contractor, Wall Street high roller Republican types owned Bush lock, stock and barrel - all contrary to the country's best interests.

Posted by: muleman | December 11, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

He kept Gates because Gates has done a fine job and when that happens Obama doesn't care what party he belongs too, or was appointed from.

Posted by: JRM2 | December 11, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

"I can assure you that Uncle Miltie would never consider bail-outs, unions, government healthcare, raising taxes, spreading it around and other lib nonsense to be in his image.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 5:22 PM |"
Well put, we should just keep on going with these GOP ideals we've been using for 12 of the last 14 years and 8 years in the White House because the country is not totally ruined yet, but with the continued Repub obstructionism their job will be finished soon.

Posted by: JRM2 | December 11, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Is this the same Aspergal who downed Obama at every turn pre-election? If so, welcome to the club. Shows you do have an open mind. Obama is picking people who know their business. With the economic crisis we face aand with continuing struggles in the Middle East, he is not, unlike bush, going to pick a bunch of rookies and idealogues. Some may not like all the picks, but one thing is clear, Obama will be in charge. He won't be the cheney puppet bush is. He is not picking out a bunch of yes men. At least he is putting intelligence back in the forefront of government.

Posted by: mikel7 | December 11, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

why are there so many whose point of view must always be so narrow. it matters virtually not at all where a particular nominee sits on a political spectrum of anyone's choosing. what matters is whether a person has an intellectual perspective to offer that might otherwise go unheard. this is as more about personality and personal uniqueness as it is about ideology. in the end, the President will do what he thinks best resolves a given set of issues in the context of HIS point of view, after having ensured the airing of as many and as varied a range of perspectives as possible. With 535 members of Congress, 50 governors, and a slew of other major stakeholders, we needen't worry whether Obama will hear the ultra-liberal wing of his party. we should, however, worry at any sign that he is inclined to go where they want to go as a matter of right; no such right exists. even on the left!

Posted by: 33rdStreet | December 11, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

What's that old saying if you make both sides angry you must be doing something right. His picks seem perfectly moderate, and right down the middle of the political spectrum, not to far left and not to far right. His picks are of highly skilled, experienced, and committed people who want to move the country in the correct direction and will get things done. What more do people want?

Posted by: Slicer7 | December 11, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that Obama is going to be from the progressive wing of the Democratic party hasn't been paying attention. To make my point, I would challenge anyone to name one significant policy difference between Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton during the Primary.

If you parse the policy points in his 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention, which was his entry into National politics, they were all mainstream Democratic positions. They are probably still a good sumation of what he believes.

The change that Obama may have been referring to during the campaign might turn out to be competence, common sense, and communitarianism, which, all in all, might not be such a bad thing. This by itself, in a Democratic administration, could lead to the acheivment of some progressive ideals, such as health insurance for all Americans, a real attempt to cool global warming, and better relations our friends and foes around the world.

Posted by: allen13 | December 11, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

More than a few of us saw this meltdown of the ultra-left coming a year ago, when they suddenly decided that the President-Elect was The Man to pin all their hopes and dreams on. The only reason why: because Obama had proven himself to be an adept campaigner and fundraiser, and *he WASN'T Hillary Clinton*. His cabinet picks, so far, show that he's being consistent with his previous record of non-ideological pragmatism...he isn't looking for a cabinet that will make the ultra-left break into a festival of joy--he's looking for people who understand the issues and problems and complexities of their areas of potential responsibilties, for people who have demonstrated an ability to accomplish difficult tasks and work with incorrigable people from both ends of the citizenry's ideological spectrum, and who will put the interests of the nation as a whole ahead of the demands of narrow groups. The ultra-left's grumbling is the equivalent of someone marrying a spouse simply for their good looks, and walking out after they've been disfigured by an accident. That's no better than the the President-Elect's losing competition on Election Day.

Posted by: winngerald | December 11, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

It's not that Obama's economic and foreign policy appointments are too conservative, it is that they are people who were wrong on the principle issues of our time: the war and deregulation. An anti-Iraq war conservative like Hagel at defense would be better than Gates; an anti-deregulation economic advisor like Stiglitz or Galbraith would be better than Summers; etc. Obama seems to be rewarding failure and punishing success. He is only likely to get more failure that way. I fear he is too timid, too intent on pleasing the ruling elites. Either that or he is delusional if he thinks that by placing them at the commanding heights he will control them and not they him.

Posted by: thurgle | December 11, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

It seems you Libs are very adept at seeing so much that isn't there. Of course that explains your candidate.

but you also are NOT able to see so much that anyone with an ounce of common sense or judgmnent could spot in an instant.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Let's also be clear of what "liberal" has been defined as in the past and how it may be defined here. We are once again recognizing the center and identifying it as such. In the past 8 years, those of us who have been anti-Republican/GOP and existing in the center of the spectrum, perhaps somewhat leaning to the left have been called "liberals." Obama, despite the way the media portrayed him as being "so liberal" is making picks that do not surprise me in the least. Anyone who has read his book understands his idealism is trumped by his pragmatism. Perhaps the voting record did not show this, but it's nice to know for once that someone makes good on what they say. I am quite impressed with the group of people he is growing here for his administration and look forward to seeing them in action, hopefully SOLVING or at least working to solve the problems we all know exist but have been told time and time again by the GOP do not exist.

Posted by: SteadyState | December 11, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Blagojevich's approval rating at 7 percent
Or in other words, about the same as the Pelosi/Reid congress.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 4:48 PM

IMO, Obama's appointing the kind of executive branch that will give Pelosi and Reid a run for their money, in case they thought that they were going to run the country from Congress while a jejeune Obama just trotted out from time to time to give inspiring speeches. He looks like he's going to be trying to run the country with a bunch of experienced (mostly) counterweights to the center of gravity in Congress.

Posted by: AsperGirl | December 11, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama is more comitted to major changes in our institutions and has a better chance of succeeding in making them than any other President of my lifetime. A key factor in his strategy is chosing Cabinet and staff who are exceptional both in understanding of the area they are responsible for and in their effectiveness at getting results. It appears that most of the American public is seeing the same picture as I am. Those who are complaining are mostly those who have nothing to contribute except complaints.

Posted by: dnjake | December 11, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"Third, for a campaign of change, the appointment of Clintonites and Clinton-lites disturbs the left. Not a single progressive has been named. This is change, but we have yet to see an appointee we can believe in."

Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 11, 2008 4:57 PM

It would not be real "change" if the administration of a right wing, under-qualified, Ivy League suit dominated by party extremists and ideologues were replaced by its mirror image: a left-wing, under-qualified Ivy League suit dominated by party extremists and ideologues.

"Change" might mean something else if we weren't in the middle of a flood of crises, but for now "change" is rejecting government run by ideological hacks and putting experienced pragmatics in office.

The fact that you don't get that demonstrates why you don't put ideological hacks into office during a time of important crises. Their tunnel vision and self-focus makes them stupid. That's the disease that the Bush Administration had: the stupidity and negligence of an ideologically excessive political party's culture.

Obama's doing what he needs to do right now given the problems that exist.

Posted by: AsperGirl | December 11, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

for someone who is supposedly so smart, he doesn't seem to have a clue about anyone around him. ignorance, stupidity or cynicism? any way you look at it, it's not good.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

This is just the political equivalent of discussing the quality of the incoming freshman recruits to a college football team. You have no idea of their quality until they graduate. And even then they have their detractors and their supporters. We'll know the answer in four years.

Posted by: caribis | December 11, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I can assure you that Uncle Miltie would never consider bail-outs, unions, government healthcare, raising taxes, spreading it around and other lib nonsense to be in his image.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

And the chattering class chatters on! More much ado about nothing from Mr. Cillizza

Posted by: pbarnett52 | December 11, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Kouk said: "Only one problem with an entire slate of academics. they have no idea how the real world operates and the theories break down imediately upon contact with reality."

Ah yes, as we've so often seen Kouk's consistent arguments against Milton Friedman and his Chicago School of academic economic acolytes.

Posted by: malis | December 11, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that most Progressives or self identified Liberals saw in Obama as one of their own. In reality, Obama never was and exhibit "A" is his second book "The Audacity of Hope." If anyone takes the time to read that well-written book, he/she would learn that Obama is really a pragmatist not an ideologue.

The only thing that one can read from his picks is that he want to get things done. Period!

Posted by: ovwong | December 11, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

First, not a single Generation X appointee so far. The grey ceiling continues to rule over, rather than rule with, the voters that elected them.

Second, while one has been named as being under consideration, there has not yet been a Native American cabinet member named.

Third, for a campaign of change, the appointment of Clintonites and Clinton-lites disturbs the left. Not a single progressive has been named. This is change, but we have yet to see an appointee we can believe in.

Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 11, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing from partisan Republicans that ‘liberals’ are highly upset about the moderate centrism Obama is demonstrating in his initial appointments, but somehow I don’t hear that from liberals (though my opinion may be suspect to some—I’m an independent who doesn’t mind the accusation of secretly being classically liberal, but I harbor substantial suspicion of the emotional populism that brands itself “Progressive”).

Obama’s transition is progressing exactly as I anticipated—I’m very satisfied. Here’s what I said here several months ago about Obama:

“If by some chance you are actually interested in Obama’s position on economics (as unlikely as that may be to the folks using ‘socialism’ as a simplistic expletive), google ‘Obama’ with ‘Chicago School’ and ‘Economics’…you might be surprised at the identity and qualifications of his key economic team.”

[note: that was to let people discover Obama’s primary economic advisers were from the free-market-oriented University of Chicago School of Economics—where Conservative God Milton Freidman developed his free-market theories and gained his following. –mal]

“As a pragmatic Independent I settled on Barack Obama because I view him as having a far higher potential of real greatness than anyone else in the race (albeit with a somewhat higher risk of Carteresque failure). His ability to answer in other than sound bites is what first started me paying attention and he’s demonstrated a rational pragmatism, self-discipline, thoughtful temperament, innate intelligence, and a consistent and firm moral core that qualifies him to be president (only the last, and perhaps a little of the first, shared by McCain).”

So far, all is progressing as expected. I’m completely satisfied (with the caveat that he won’t be President for another few weeks, and it will be at least a couple of years after that until we can even start making judgments).

Posted by: malis | December 11, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Blagojevich's approval rating at 7 percent

Or in other words, about the same as the Pelosi/Reid congress.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 11, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Of course Obama has to put conservatives in his administration. The hard left is only good at sucking up governmant money. They don't have any experience in actually working.

Posted by: RobT1 | December 11, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Those people who believe Obama is appointing a conservative cabinet are overlooking his personal leadership ability. He seems to be developing into an executive, not just a pop-icon political figure. I.e. he's not just able to lead the masses and fan clubs, but appears to be able to influence leadership people around him. The people who feel he's nominating too many centrists or conservatives might want to consider that he appears to have the talent to lead these same appointees to follow his vision to the left, where it goes to the left. If this is the case, the team he is assembling is a great fit.

Posted by: AsperGirl | December 11, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Only one problem with an entire slate of academics. they have no idea how the real world operates and the theories break down imediately upon contact with reality.

Case in point - socialism/Marxism.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

This is not a time in our country's history where the regular political and ideological maneuvers take priority.

If and when Obama can bring us through the next few (very rough) years and into a solid economic recovery, deal with the environmental agenda, resolve longstanding foreign war issues, the terrorist state Pakistan is turning into and a host of other big problems, then he can put politics and ideology above problem-solving.

Because of the things he's inheriting from the Bush years, and the global-scale problems that have to be solved, it seems to me that Obama would be insane to put politics first right now. We are not in a position where we can attempt solutions to problems again and again and not suffer if the first attempts are a screw-up. We need effective, incisive leadership where very few first steps are missteps.

A more likely scenario for a great presidency would be that he helps direct a recovery and some effective national management and problem-solving in the first four years, and then the second four years are more of a normal political landscape building administration.

Posted by: AsperGirl | December 11, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama promised a bipartisan effort and I feel like that is what he is giving us. I think (and definitely hope) that Obama understands that a lot of the mess our country is in is a result not so much of Republicans, but of one party taking too much control and not being willing to listen to ideas from the other side.

Obama is an academic and many of the people mentioned for their conservative nature are largely from academia. Summers and Geithner in particular have largely academic pedigrees. I believe that bringing in academics is part of Obama's campaign promise to bring in the best and brightest on both sides of the aisle.

I understand any concern about his purpose of bringing change, yet still bringing in a lot of Washington insiders. Unfortunately, Sen. Obama (sorry I hate using President-elect as a title) has come to the harsh reality that you need some of them to get things done in this town.

I feel that many left wingers complaining fell victim to some of the right wingers' propoganda about Obama that he's "the most liberal member of the Senate." Thus both extremes believed that Obama was lying in his campaign promises and may have run into the one thing from Obama that neither side is prepared to handle: Sincerity.

Posted by: andygoldman | December 11, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Electors Challenged To Investigate Birth Dispute
'Only reasonable explanation' is he wasn't born in the U.S.

Posted: December 11, 2008
10:53 am Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

An activist organization has posted a video on YouTube challenging members of the Electoral College to investigate the dispute over Barack Obama's birth certificate and eligibility for office.

The U.S. Constitution requires that the president be a "natural born" citizen, but the organization,, says instead of providing the documentation, Obama has hired three law firms to make certain the public does not have access to it.

Posted by: AJAX2 | December 11, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse




Posted by: mkaplan1220 | December 11, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

To the extent one can judge where the Obama administration is headed based on his appointments thus far, I don't think it's fair to claim that he has reneged on appointing "liberals." If his liberal critics had listened closely during the campaign, Obama repeatedly made it clear that he is more center-left than not, and that, regardless, he was more interested in bipartisanship. However, I do think his supporters would have a legitimate grievance in that Obama, despite his rhetoric, appears to have steadily failed to fulfill his campaign promise of "change."

Posted by: Ryan7 | December 11, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

This question is complicated by the other question that has been raging for the last month or so -- has our country shifted leftward? My answer to that is that, after decades of inattention to health care, income equity, and other concens associated with the left, most Americans acknowledge that these issues need attention. So the center has shifted leftward, and moderates like Geithner and Summers, like moderates in the electorate, are focused on making changes in these areas. That makes them ideally equipped to lead mainstream America in efforts to address our festering problems.

Posted by: REClayton | December 11, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama campaigned as something of a blank slate. He carefully framed his message, avoiding specifics so that voters could hear what they most wanted to hear. That's a smart way to campaign.

The smart way to govern is from the center. Democracy is all about compromise -- you can't govern from the left or the right for long if you want to stay effective. A real leader like Obama can push the country in the direction he wants, but he still has to govern from where the center is today.

Both parties have ideological fringes that hate compromise, and are prone to noisy complaining. Hildebrand's message is the classically wrong way to deal with them. You have to give them real victories, important things that are meaningful to them, if you want to keep them on your side. Simply patting them on the head, telling them to wait and see, telling them they've got nowhere else to go -- these are big mistakes. Karl Rove certainly understood this. Presumably Obama does also. The key question will be which issues Obama will cede to the left, and where he will ask them to compromise. Without doubt, there will be a lot more compromising than they really want.

Posted by: just_semantics | December 11, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The picks have been fine so far. None are raging ideologues, or rankly unqualified.

Ultimately the measure that matters is going to be on the job performance and it's too early to measure anything.

Essentially I agree with Hildebrand's argument that it's too early to make judgments; although I think his comment essentially telling allies to STFU and trust authority was ill-advised.

He could have finessed that one more artfully and left room for dissenting views. (e.g. there are those who are upset about these selections; as a strong supporter of Obama and a liberal, I am not one of them. Here's why).

Posted by: JPRS | December 11, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Senator Dodd calls for his own resignation
By William Kevin Stoos Wednesday, December 10, 2008

- Satire -
After calling for the resignation of GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner and suggesting that Wagoner “move on,” and in a refreshing display of honesty rarely seen among politicians in Washington, Senator Chris Dodd--Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee--called for his own resignation today.

In an exclusive interview with Stoos Views , Dodd mused:

“You know, I got to thinking…after presiding over the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disasters--which cost the taxpayers billions and happened on my watch; after taking $133,900 in donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the same time I was supposed to be monitoring them, what kind of hypocritical, incompetent SOB would I be if I did not resign myself? After all, I am largely responsible for the current financial debacle facing this country. Therefore, to be morally consistent, I have, this day, called for my resignation as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. I expect to hear from myself by the end of the day, as to whether to submit and accept my resignation. As I told the Chairman of GM: It is time for new leadership.”

Dodd continued: “And to be perfectly consistent, my friend and partner in incompetence, Barney Frank, ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee must likewise move on. After all, he told us that ‘these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were not facing any kind of financial crisis.’ He received tens of thousands of dollars from these organizations too. Like me, he failed to monitor these institutions and was woefully incompetent as well.”

Dodd went on to say that he will soon propose the creation of another bloated, expensive, and inept federal bureaucracy--“The Car Czar”--to oversee the billions of dollars that he and Frank intend to give the Big Three auto makers and to do that which Congress was hired to do--monitor the expenditure of public monies. “What’s a few billion more,” Dodd remarked, “we can print as much money as we want!” Dodd concluded that he also favors the creation of a second new federal bureaucracy, designed to oversee Members of Congress--“The Hypocrisy Czar.”

Congressman Frank--who did not show up for work today in observance of national “Call in Gay Day” --could not be reached for comment. He is expected to admit his incompetence and resign as well. Reportedly, no one in his office noticed he was gone.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 11, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The foreign policy team does not have an Acheson or Kissinger who has a broad foreign policy view, regardless of its content, unless Biden will have the influence. Clinton is okay as a Chief Diplomat, but Obama was right about her lacking of experience in thinking about foreign policy. The disorder in her campaign suggests she will be a disaster at administering a large and fractious deparrment.

The Rubin economic team is not centrist, but as Greenspan said, to the right of Bush. Rubin was the most irresponsible man in the Clinton cabinet promoting the NASDAQ bubble and trade deficit and then he introduced rules changes in 1999 so he could feather his nest by irresponsible behavior at Citi that bankrupted it.

The team has no one committed to regulation like Joseph Stiglitz who won a Nobel Prize in 2001 for being right on regulation and Russia while being Summers' leading opponent in the Clinton Administration. Since he is such an enemy of Summers, surely Summers will block him from middle-level jobs.

And to give power to Summers when his endowment policy at Harvard has just laid the institution low seems bizarre. At least let us find out what he did at his hedge fund and what bill of goods he sold other universities.

The question is what is going on. The frightening possibility is that Obama has appointed like-minded people when he portrayed himself as something else to the electorate. The likely probability is that he wants political cover from opponents of his policy. That usually is not how the Washingtob that leaks like a sieve works. And if Obama thinks he needs cover, does he cave in when the cover breaks down?

It should be an interesting year. The market has a great deal of hope built into it now.

Posted by: jhough1 | December 11, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen project has informative statistics on addressing global poverty.

$30 billion ends world hunger
$550 billion is the US Defense budget

Posted by: diana9 | December 11, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

havok26 writes
"However I would say that the cabinet does not appear to be liberal enough considering that Obama campaigned and got elected on a liberal platform of change."

I disagree. Sen Obama did not run a particularly liberal campaign; certainly more liberal than McCain, but less so than most of his primary opponents; Hillary on health care was more liberal than Obama, for example. I think some people took his position on Iraq as representative of his positions elsewhere, which is not a valid extrapolation.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 11, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

While I think it is completely true that Obama's early cabinet picks all reflected a moderate standpoint (with maybe the exception of Holder as the AG), his appointments since his national security team and economic team have all been a series of left of center leaders. Think about his picks for his health care team, his environmental and energy policy teams, and his head of veteran affairs.
In the case of his national security team, much of his picks were made easy for him because of the new consensus: we need to set up diplomatic discussions with hostile regimes, we need to get out of Iraq, and America has to rebuild its soft power and strong international institutions. Four, even two, years ago these positions were certainly left of center. Now, all serious foreign policy experts of either party, except for neo-conservative ones, accept these principles as what America needs to be doing now. Obama, I think, gets a lot of credit for producing this new wisdom, but also he gets a lot of cover for appointing people like Clinton and Gates to produce the policies he has always supported. The economic team are all moderates, but they were introduced to calm the markets. Meanwhile, he has shown he plans to spend his political capital on two domestic issues: health care and the environment. In both those cases he has assembled a team of left of center, yet politically savvy, individuals. As a progressive, I am very impressed.

Posted by: thescuspeaks | December 11, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Certain progressives view Barack Obama’s selection of a moderate/conservative cabinet as reneging on campaign promises to deliver liberal policies. I believe we can distinguish the appointments from administration policy. Was it not after all another campaign promise to rule from the center with a diverse, bi-partisan administration? First, Barack Obama on several occasions has stated that it will be his policies that are instituted. What evidence do we have to say this is untrue? In many respects, throughout his career, Obama has shown himself to be liberal if not very democrat on many issues. Are we to assume he will drastically change his positions at the behest of HIS appointments? Then, his bi-partisan appointments were made to strengthen policy through debate and dissenting opinion. Those concerned can also be assured that through such appointments more Americans are represented, and may be inclined to support a Barack Obama administration allowing more time and resources (Democratically controlled Congress) to pursue progressive policies.

Posted by: GBthunder16 | December 11, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I would not say they are too conservative. Conservatives got shot down in the 2006 and 2008 elections and are on the outside pissing in. However I would say that the cabinet does not appear to be liberal enough considering that Obama campaigned and got elected on a liberal platform of change.

Posted by: havok26 | December 11, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If I were an Obama primary voter I would be pissed about his choices for the cabinet. The only things he had going that were different from HRC were:

1, Gender

2, His skin color.


3, His promise that he would change the way government is run, i.e. he was a reformer/outsider vs. HRC's washington insider.

Two of these differences are still there but one is in doubt, well Obamanites which two are they?

Posted by: DCDave11 | December 11, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Please read today's Albany's Times-Union and find out what corruption is. The first page tells how bad things are here in Albany NY.

Posted by: pat3 | December 11, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

It is not yet apparent where Obama is heading. An early conclusion is the Left Wing will be largely ignored as it nowhere else to go. Obama can rule through the center with moderate Republican or Democrat coalitions depending upon the particular policy. The other possibility is that Obama needs a diversion, which his cabinet provides, to steer this country down a new direction. Time will tell.

There are obvious implications to governing from the right. Clinton did it but the voter demographics are unlikely to allow Obama much success with this approach. Much of the energy and drive that propelled the Obama candidacy came from the left. It was the center of gravity that allowed others to coalesce. That coalition cannot be duplicated from the center.

Absent a fired-up base, the 2010 elections should see a swing away the Democrats and 2012 becomes problematic. Throwing a few crumbs may well assuage some, but feelings will be high if this turns out to another Clinton Presidency.

Posted by: OscarMayer2 | December 11, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

To: mibrooks27:

Roger that.

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 11, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I would guess that the blogosphere would say that there has probably never been a progressive president AND cabinet at the same time. As BHO said when someone asked him about all the Clinton appointees he was naming (I think we describe them as centrists), he replied that in the last 28 years, CLinton's was the only Democratic administration we've had at all, and if we want people who we know can do the job, that's where we need to look. Conservative or progressive is clearly not Obama's number one criteria, it's competence, and that is quite clearly a change from the last eight years. Obama is the vision guy and the the administration needs to be competent to carry it out.

Posted by: erikpdumont | December 11, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The term "progressive" makes my skin crawl. Progressives are nothing more than a grand collection of activists twits that want to do for what Bush's right wing nut cases did with their right wing agenda. But, as for Obama's cabinet, it does appear too ensnared in business interests. If that is what conservative has come to mean, then "YES" it is far far too conservative. But, there are plenty o people who call themselves conservatives who are as opposed to outsourcing and free trade and big corporations, tax cuts for the wealthy, as I or anyone calling themselves "liberal".

We need some simple basic things without all of the surrounding claptrap and nonsense. We need something like national healthcare, a single payer Scandinavian style system would work best, and a series of programs to build our infrastructure. Things like national DSL mandatory with every landline telephone (and, please spare me the 4 mile limit, I designed a booster at one employer that makes that limit closer to 100 miles), roads, an advanced and more efficient electrical grid, nuclear power plants (and I don't want private enterprise anywhere near those plants - having seen our "free enterprise" system the subject of their tender mercies and the mess they made removes ANY argument any conservative might have about the private sector being able to do ANYTHING). We also need an end to outsourcing, guest worker visas, and especially the H1-B and L-1 programs, an end to allowing our colleges and universities as cheap easily available schools for foreign students. We also need an efficient and advanced military capacity... which means dumping the fools, incompetent carrier hacks and armchair generals at the Pentagon. I would hope we would eliminate the alphabet soup of new "security" agencies and dump the CIA at the same time. The FBI is far more capable of handling anything the CIA ever did without being a collection of paranoid cowboys and nut jobs. I would gladly trust the average FBI field agent with my life whereas I wouldn't want the average CIA operative in my neighborhood. Beyond that, I don't much want the government doing anything. Sure, Wall Street and corporate America did untold harm, but their biggest mistake was exporting the damage world wide. So a series of international Nuremberg like trials, complete with international investigations, international laws that open up their offshore accounts and empty them, and convictions that entail hangings and lifetime prison sentences in third world hellhole prisons for these swine would work far better than anything our government could possible do for these criminals.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 11, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse





This question is irrelevant: Obama promised the nation he would be post-partisan. To place these labels on him is so far beneath him - Shame on YOU !!! Shame on you !!!!





Posted by: 37thandORules | December 11, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

People misunderstand what is being said here. The point is not that progressives expect ALL policy under Obama to be people-oriented (uh, just to clarify, that is what progressive means). We do expect, however, that policymakers with a history of speaking and acting on behalf of poor and working class people have a VOICE, A POINT OF VIEW THAT'S HEARD at the cabinet level. Who you surround yourself with is who you hear.

Posted by: Momo6 | December 11, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

These picks kind of go to show the state of the Democratic Party. We have had a President who wins elections by the slimmest of margins and a Congress with a slight majority, and Bush and those people have no problem pushing their audaciously conservative views on the rest of the country.

Obama wins by a robust 6%, doubles up McCain on electoral votes, Democrats have overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate and yet Obama can't see his way to inviting one real liberal voice into his policy discussions. I do think Obama will push his policies, but Democrats are still petrified of being branded with their actual beliefs, so they try and hide it.

I'll live with it if it helps to get what I want, but I do think its a bit cowardly.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 11, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse



There's such a thing as co-opting to the point of being co-opted.

The line must be drawn at the intelligence services and the agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Janet Napolitano must restore respect for the Constitution within DHS, which has been criticized for widespread violations of civil liberties committed in the name of national security and "keeping America safe."

Likewise, Obama's choices for director of national intelligence and CIA director must be individuals with a demonstrated record of respect for constitutionally guaranteed rights, and adherence to international covenants that prohibit torture and other human rights abuses -- whether committed abroad or at home.

In the opinion of many progressives and moderates alike, that requirement would tend to disqualify anyone with a direct connection to the current administration.

The rocky honeymoon between Obama and his longtime supporters on the progressive left will end entirely if the DNI and CIA appointments result in a continuation of policies and programs that have made a mockery of the nation's judicial system -- and our declarations of respect for human rights.


Not as long as government-supported extrajudicial targeting squads are "community stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 11, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The lefties criticizing the Obama cabinet picks are not being unfair, though they are a bit misguided.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 11, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I am very interested to see Obama in action as president. He ran a very effective campaign and seems to be organizing his administration in concentric circles with a variety of nuanced layers. He has a very interesting mind and demeanor. Let's see how he puts this varied group to work. We may all (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised. All of those who have accepted appointments want to work with him. It may be that the labels will wear off.

Posted by: knowone1 | December 11, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

2000 comments... sounds to me like the blog posts are being dominated by stoner college trust-fund hippies who think they're the end all be all of American liberal politics because they have a Che poster on the dorm wall.

Looking at this objectively, as a liberal, I see an incoming administration that has appointed a powerful Democratic leader to not only run HHS, but also take the lead on the Administration health care reform... something which wasn't even a twinkle in the eye of the Bush Administration. Real, comprehensive health care reform is going to happen, and it will be a priority. Then look at Chu, a nobel-prize winning physicist who is now known as a champion of innovation in the alternative energy sector will be at the healm of Energy. Not only is he an active and knowledgeable proponent of a specific liberal agenda item, he is also one of the top scientists in the world.

As for HRC at state, if she had been the nominee for President, and won, would anyone be calling her a conservative? Please.

Regarding Geithner and Gates, these are obviously not liberals, but they also happen to be some of the only competent individuals currently dealing with the greatest issues our country faces. Elevating one, and keeping the other in place is a smart move at a time when a new administration could benefit from avoiding a pitfall or two by way of what competent continuity is available.

Posted by: hiberniantears | December 11, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

+1 for Mediaptera's comment.

In Clinton we had a popularity president with flash focus.
In Bush we had a secretive president with confentiality focus.
In Obama we have a strategic president with multifaceted focus.

If you try to interpret Obama actions while wearing a Bush lens your perceptions will be inacurrate because they are based on false assumptions.

Posted by: kiterios | December 11, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

first Obama is too liberal, now the cabinet is too conservative. I don't know what to think of the media—can't trust it.

Posted by: tsugua | December 11, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Mediaptera. I was dismayed by how few progressives were in Obama's cabinet, but when I hear his agenda and I hear what he is proposing, I see its more progressive than centrist. So I believe his cabinet picks are a brilliant strategy to ensure his progressive actions aren't considered extreme thus increasing their chance of enactment.

Posted by: johnnyspazm | December 11, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to live in an America with a progressive president, a progressive cabinet, and a progressive legislature all looking our for a progressive populace. But have you seen all the conservatives around here?

I'm sorry, fellow liberals, but Barack Obama has to be the president for all Americans, not for just the progressive Americans. Realistically, Obama won't be successful if he always has half the country mad at him.

Dividing the country didn't work for Bush. What makes you think it will work for Obama?

Posted by: dognabbit | December 11, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Liberal" vs. "conservative" -- again with the labels. Oy.

All this angst about the make-up of the Cabinet and the only one with a track record in his job is Gates. How can anyone know what BHO's Cabinet members will do? As an example, look at Earl Warren and John Paul Stevens. Both were nominated to SCOTUS as "moderate conservatives" by R Presidents and both have turned out to be among the "liberal" bloc of SCJs.

Posted by: mnteng | December 11, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I posted a comment on an Obama blog about feeling left out as a progressive -- and the need for more diverse voices in the "team of rivals". The reaction from other Obama supporters was fierce, mainly along 2 lines: (1) ad hominem attacks on me personally (!), that I was a "troll", a right wing plant, a party spoiler, etc.; and (2) a strong aversion to any kind of internal critique whatsoever, and a demand that we simply trust whatever Obama says and does. I have to say: that is a recipe for disaster, the same kind of BS that brought us Bush's 8 year reign as king. It's absolutely important that we make the case for why diverse, progressive points of view are represented in the Obama adminstration. This will impact every sphere of domestic and foreign policy -- health care, civil rights, AIDS, economic policy, war. We need -- no, we demand -- that our perspective be heard.

Posted by: Momo6 | December 11, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The PE hasn't been straight about anything from Wright to his Far Left cronies. But the brilliance with which he does it is often dazzling.

Now, faced with an economy out of control and a world in crisis, he knows better than to trust his own future to the tree-huggers he adores. So, he's gambling that the very kind of folks McCain would have appointed can get him to 2010 looking goood.

Then, watch him throw the current crowd under the bus (a la Wright and Rezko) and replace them with the greatest aggregation of pinko's ever gathered under one Washington roof.

Posted by: jayjay9 | December 11, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

We have a situation where every level of government is morally and economically bankrupt. We have little or no resources left but libs want to tax and spend on climate change (known as global warming when we aren’t freezing our arses off). Thanks libs for prolonging the coming depression.

Posted by: leapin | December 11, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Many on the left are disappointed that the man they worked so hard to elect—mostly without pay—would turn around and appoint so many Bush and Clinton administration officials.

But appointing a relatively conservative cabinet is a brilliant move on Obama's part. Now, government infrastructure spending is a "centrist" stimulus plan, not a "liberal" one. Ending torture and closing Guantánamo is now a "centrist" plan to restore America's standing abroad, not a "liberal" one. The same goes for universal health care. The same goes for negotiating with Iran and North Korea (even though they may not want to negotiate with us). The list goes on.

Obama has redefined the word "centrist." Media pundits like to talk about how America is still a "center-right" country. This may be true, but the "center" has moved to the left.

Posted by: Mediaptera | December 11, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd have been happier with more progressives on the economic team. We're up the creek without a paddle, and it's time for a dramatic move.
Obama is moving on the climate-change problem. That has been a clear problem for some time. The economice meltdown has become obvious more recently.

Posted by: F_L_Palmer | December 11, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Of course it's a fair criticism. Obama didn't pick a sufficiently liberal Cabinet, so liberals are criticizing him for it. The same would happen to any politician who made appointees that some constituents disagreed with. What about that is unfair?

Posted by: Blarg | December 11, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

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