The Wrap: Guess Who’s Coming to Cabinet Meetings?
This week, the president-elect has settled on several cabinet selections, including Janet Napolitano at DHS, Bill Richardson at Commerce, Tom Daschle at HHS, and Tim Geithner at Treasury. Plus, one other little-noticed choice. More on the cabinet in this week’s Feature.
Also this week: CEOs of the Big Three asked for some scratch to stay afloat. There are arguments on both sides, but who asks for money right after they step off their G5? This is political tee-ball, and these guys struck out.
Secretary of Lip Fur Sam Elliot
The Waxman Revolt reached a successful conclusion. This is gratifying for the blog, which maintains a firm pro-mustache stance.
Finally, this reminder: death comes to us all. It just might come quicker now.
The Washington Post: “Bumpy Road Ahead for a Traveler” by David Ignatius.
The New York Times: “An Old Hometown Mentor, and Still at Obama’s Side” by Jodi Kantor.
Newsweek: “A Path out of the Woods” by Fareed Zakaria
Economist: “A Reassuring Figure for Treasury.”
“A Proclamation” by Abraham Lincoln.
Special bonus: “A Proclamation” by Gov. William Cross
Feature: Movement of the People
We Americans are a restless bunch. From pioneering the West to “Giddy Up 409,” from landing at Plymouth Rock to landing on the moon, we are a people in perpetual motion. That’s why this weekend brought such relief.
Nine weeks ago, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, setting off the current financial crisis. Since, the most powerful person in government has been someone we did not elect. It chafes at our notions of self-government and self-reliance. We have felt leaderless, but worse, we have felt stagnant.
The president-elect, to his credit, has scrupulously avoided the spotlight to avoid stepping on the current president’s toes. But by Friday, Obama (and we) could wait no longer. When he leaked cabinet appointments, they weren’t just job hires, they were pronouncements: Bill Richardson will get American goods selling. Hillary Clinton will rebuild our global relationships. Tim Geithner will get our finances in order. It finally feels like we’re moving again.
It probably won’t last. Campaigns, when done right, feel like movements. As the junior senator from Illinois, then as Democratic Party nominee, Obama was all about motion. His campaign moved at a breakneck pace. He opened his mouth and lifted whole buildings right off the ground. There was revolution in the air, right through Election Night.
Governing is stickier. With the first images of what Obama’s presidency will look like, we’re already coming back to Earth. The griping has begun: Larry Summers dislikes women. Eric Holder let a fraud out of jail. More than once in the past week, the blog has wondered how different the cabinet would look if the Clintons had won the presidency.
The hiring critiques were compounded by earlier miscues. Details of Obama’s conversations with President Bush leaked. His introduction to India did not go well. Nobody is satisfied with their inauguration seats, and if you don’t think that matters in Washington, you haven’t been to Washington.
The Obama momentum, in which many of us invested so heavily, feels like it’s slowing, partly because the man himself has taken a step back, but also because the steps forward don’t feel strident enough.
On November 4th we were being led by a pillar of fire On November 5th we were wandering in the desert again. There’s an extended metaphor to be had here about the mountaintop and Canaan and milk and honey (the blog leaves that extrapolation to you, dear reader). Suffice it to say, the desert is something you pass through on the way to the Promised Land; for us, there’s more than enough reason for hope.
The immediate lesson is patience, grasshopper. Barack Obama will lift our hopes sometimes, and disappoint us other times. Presidencies often mature slowly, but change is coming.
There’s a lesson for the president-elect, too. A philosopher once said, “Life isn’t about how hard you can hit—it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” That’s certainly what a presidency is all about.
Both these lessons are rooted in trust. We must trust our judgment that Barack Obama can set our nation aright. He must trust himself, the people who love him, and in providence. We’ll get moving again, together.
On Deck: Being Thankful
The Obama team might as well photocopy the same press briefing sheet every day: “No public events are scheduled for today.” With the holiday this week, don’t too many Obama sightings. It takes time to adjust to being president. Plus, next week figures to be busy.
In the meantime, counting continues in Minnesota and campaigning continues in Georgia, featuring the return of a blog favorite.
But politics is taking the week off. You should too, dear reader. Get your grub on, nap ferociously, and if you’re traveling, travel safely.
Finally, in celebration of the season, the blog leaves you with a little gift. Happy Thanksgiving.