Is it too early to criticize Barack Obama for his program, his appointments, and his policies? He is not yet president but he is dominating the news and influencing markets and foreign-policy as though he had already been inaugurated. At the same time, he tells us that we have only one president at a time and that president is George W. Bush.
Personnel indicates policy, often determines policy, and Obama’s appointments are from the establishment on both domestic and foreign affairs. Yet Obama’s prime message during his meteoric rise to power was “change.” How can establishment figures from both parties install significant change?
Obama’s foreign and military policies will be developed by four power centers: Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and National Security Adviser, Marine General James Jones. All supported the invasion of Iraq; none advocate immediate withdrawal from that country or revision of US world-wide military involvement.
Obama’s economic team is dominated by veterans of the Clinton and Bush administrations, who participated in the repeal of financial regulations, an act that precipitated the current crisis. Robert Rubin guided Citicorp to its current bankrupt position, Lawrence Summers was the prime mover for the repeal and Timothy Geithner is a Bush appointee. How can Obama entrust the American economy to these failures?
During his campaign Barack Obama exhorted the adoring crowds of supporters with, “We are the people we have been waiting for”. Well, where are these people? He promised reform ideas for fundamental change of the system. The voters projected on him their personal ideals and idiosyncratic hopes for change. They are sure to be disappointed at Obama’s emphasis on traditional experience by establishment figures who brought us to the current crisis.
And a large part of the Obama vote came from liberals. It’s fair to ask, “Where are the liberals in the Obama administration?” Obama is seeking support from conservative Republicans, offers to include their ideas and opinions in his programs, and appoints them to key positions, a process that pushes the Obama agenda in a conservative direction.
Do the liberals have the abilities and experience to manage these bureaucracies, to furnish the necessary ideas? For answers consult the Nobel Prize winners, the faculties of our finest universities, the managers of some of our largest businesses. The liberals are there, in big numbers, but not on Obama’s list.
Obama needs to answer important questions about his administration. Where are the liberals? Where are the people who voted against the war? Where are the prescient who warned against financial deregulation? Where are the advisors who will give Obama a full range of policy options to make him a better problem solver and successful president?