November 25, 2008

Ezra is puzzled

about why Clinton is headed to State:

Conventional wisdom, in this memo, was another way of saying 'Hillary Clinton, her foreign policy adviser, and the people who agreed with her about things.' And Obama just appointed her to the most important foreign policy position in the US government. She will have to carry out his overarching priorities, of course, but beneath that, she will have significant managerial autonomy, and considerable opportunity to use her judgment. The very judgment Obama oriented his campaign against. Which is not to say that this is a bad pick, or that Hillary Clinton will do a bad job. But it is a very sharp break with the Obama campaign's central message.

You mean, the central message that it's important to incorporate a wide range of points of view into the governance of the country?

And, pretty much what a guest blogger at Shakesville said:

Barack Obama has some really effective rhetoric for engaging the most energetic left flank of the Democratic Party, but beyond that rhetoric, he is fundamentally a principled incrementalist reformer with a deep affinity for coalition-building and compromise. This is not to say that he's a bad person or a liar or that I have anything other than the highest hopes for his presidency. It's simply to say that he's not the generational revolutionary he has been made out to be by some bloggers. Barack Obama isn't the angry young man who brings down the system and gives hope to a weary world, much to the dismay of angry young man bloggers everywhere. But anyone who wasn't deeply invested in their own projections and neuroses during the primaries should already know that, right?

I suppose the primary difference between most progressive bloggers and me is that I see `principled incrementalist reformer with a deep affinity for coalition-building and compromise' and I say `yay!' But then, I'm also the guy considering writing a dissertation on John Dewey.

PS also this


Unknown said...

Who are all of these liberal bloggers who really thought Obama was going to be some kind of... liberal? I've never understood that. Obama was always my second choice in the Democratic primary precisely because he was too moderate. And he's still too moderate, though I'm encouraged that the economic crisis seems to be pushing him in the right (that is, left) direction.

And I think you're being overly dismissive of Ezra's puzzlement. It isn't surprising at all that Obama would want Clinton in his administration. It is surprising that he would give her responsibility over precisely the area where they most pointedly disagreed during the campaign. It's like tapping McCain to run economic policy.

A lot of Democrats who supported Obama in the primary did so because they agreed with his critique of her foreign policy, so it's a little galling that he's giving her a position with so much responsibility for foreign policy.

MosBen said...

I think the question of Clinton's appointment rests squarely on what their conversations were like after the election and how confident Obama is that he can order Clinton to carry out his agenda. We don't know these things, so as far as I'm concerned we just have to wait to see what she does with the post before we decide if it's a good idea or not.