The controversy is swirling over the cabinet selections of President-elect Barack Obama. Some on the left are concerned that appointments in areas such as international affairs, economic matters and national defense are too conservative. Liberals to keep pressure on Obama for results. Meanwhile conservatives are either lauding the appointments or chuckling, hoping that there will be a rift between Obama and his more liberal supporters. ‘In with a bang’ Obama dismays the faithful.
I am betting on Obama.
I have to. He is doing exactly what I did in 1973 when first elected mayor with a political base even further left than Obama's. There were only minor problems moving Madison in a progressive direction in a situation where I inherited every top department and division head. There were some rogues, but they were eventually weeded out.
Obama has to prove he can govern. That is going to take two years. For that he does not need ideologues or partisans. If the appointees are to the left, so much the better, but what he needs is experience and competence in cabinet level appointees who will carry out his programs and policies.
As any student of the German sociologist Max Weber or the Princeton University Professor Woodrow Wilson knows, public servants, with rare exceptions, are committed to the rule of law and further are committed to serving their democratically elected leaders.
There are exceptions. There are public servants who violate these principles, but they are more likely to be found in administrations where the leader is also a rogue. Just ask Richard Nixon.
And Dick Cheney does not count; he is an elected official and a rogue. He is not and never was a bureaucrat.
So long as Obama is clear and decisive in making decisions, and maintains a presence as the hierarchal leader, there should not be problems of Cabinet members substituting their ideas for his.
Where change will appear first is in the appointments to the commissions and the boards. Look for changes in the FCC (not the resurrection of the fairness doctrine but the challenges to monopolies), FDA (drug safety and pricing), and certainly the FTC (consumer protection).