President-elect Obama

December 2nd, 2008

I’m already impressed with President-elect Obama.  I didn’t vote for him, for reasons I discussed earlier, but from what I can see he’s doing almost everything right. 

I remember watching his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and thinking, “This one will be President someday.”  That wasn’t particularly prescient; millions of others thought the same thing.

There are two overarching realities about the presidency.  First, he has awesome power, but there are serious realistic limits on what he can do with it.  Separation of powers, partisan politics, foreign affairs, and the economy, to name just a few of the limits.  Second, he can’t run the government alone.  The people he selects for his cabinet, the White House staff, and key jobs in the bureaucracy actually run the government, assuming anyone really does.

The first test of a new president, and the first indicator of what kind of president he will be, is the selection of these key people.  So far, I’m impressed.  With the exception of Hillary Clinton, I think he’s getting it right.  He has the courage to pick tried and tested leaders, some of whom could easily overshadow him, and he’s willing to endure the criticisms of supporters who expected him to be a lot more radical.  I also think his decision to keep Gates at Defense was brilliant. It continues strong, popular leadership of the military, and Gates has broad bipartisan support.

As a first family, the Obamas have tremendous potential.  Michelle is classy, strong, and smart as can be, although she may have to be a little cautious about spontaneously speaking her mind.  The kids are, in a word, perfect.  Americans will embrace them in a way that hasn’t happened since the Kennedys brought lovable kids into the White House.  Even the yet-to-be-selected first dog will be a winner, no doubt. 

Obama will be the President of all Americans.  I think he understands that in his gut, where it counts, and he’s headed in the right direction.

And just one more thing:  Regardless of what anyone thinks of President Bush and his presidency, we have to give him credit for doing a class job of making the transition work well.  That’s critically important during this troubled time.

UPDATE:  Henry Kissinger wrote about Obama’s choices of senior officials in a column in The Washington Post on December 5.  He characterized the selections for secretary of state, secretary of defense, and national security advisor as an “extraordinary team for national security policy.”  Since that list includes Hillary Clinton, all I can say is two out of three ain’t bad.  The Kissinger column is worth reading–dense and convoluted, as usual, but informative.


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6 Responses to “President-elect Obama”



  1. doris |

    Sad to say that is the only thing Bush has done right,in my opinion. The dog should be a lab or cocker ,very popular,hey,how about a first cat? Obama also impressed me with that first speech,he moved me like no other politician ever has,but,he is a great speaker.I just hope he can do all he aspires to do. I do,however, think,Michelle will say alot too much alot too loud,but,it will be interesting to watch. I hope he doesn’t make me sorry I voted for them.


  2. Kevin |

    I agree that Obama’s picks have been brilliant, but not for the same reason Tom cites. They indicate to me that he’s determined to forge his own path as President, in that he’s not going to toe any particular ideological line because he fully intends to be the President of all of us.

    I certainly wouldn’t have had a problem if he’d replaced Gates – who I’m not a particular fan of. But… Gates is no Rumsfeld and as such I don’t identify him all that strongly with the unmitigated fiasco that was the Bush administration.


  3. carla |

    Ugh..did you REALLY vote for McCain?


  4. doris |

    Yeah,how can Tom profess to be a Democrat,yet vote for McCain? I think he had a crush on Sarah,and wanted to see her in the whitehouse or he forgot that McCain was just another Bush,quite literally.


  5. Tom |

    Yep, I voted for McCain. Me and about 58,343,671 other people. But remember this–Texas was going so strong for McCain that my one vote didn’t really mean anything.

    Obama concerned me. Probably the least qualified man we ever elected president. Far left ideology. Weird associations. Lots of “change” talk, but not much meat on those bones. Lots of pandering to the far left loonies while he tried to siddle up to the centrists of both parties.

    But that’s all over with. He got elected, and he’s going to be my president. I’ll support him any way I can.

    The only thing that really bothers me is that Piper Palin is going to have to stay up in Alaska. When she licked her palm and smoothed the baby’s hair, I was sold. Oh well, maybe she’ll be in the White House in about 40 years.


  6. Opinion Forum » Blog Archive » “Change” Means Change |

    […] wrote earlier,  I’m impressed so far with Obama’s selections of cabinet officers and other senior […]


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