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Dick Morris
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Obama's 'Change': Back to the Democratic Washington Insiders

Comment

What's with Obama's choice of old-time Clinton cronies and recycled Washington insiders to run the transition to his new politics of change?

Can't the anti-Washington-insiders president-elect find anyone who isn't a Beltway has-been?

Judging by the appointments to his transition committee and leaks about possible top staff and Cabinet choices, Obama appears to be practicing the politics of status quo, not the politics of change.

Obama based his innovative campaign on an emphatic and convincing commitment to change the culture of Washington and bring in new people, new ideas and new ways of doing business. But now, Obama has definitely changed his tune. As president-elect, he's brought back the old Washington hacks, party regulars and Clinton sycophants that he so frequently disparaged. Like Jimmy Carter, the last president who ran as an outsider, Obama has reached out to the same old folks who dominate the Democratic Party and represent the status quo.

His Transition Committee looks like a reunion of the Clinton administration. No new ideas of how to reform the system there. The chairman, John Podesta, was Clinton's chief of staff. He presided over the outrageous last-minute pardons and his style is strictly inside-the-Beltway and make-no-waves.

Then there's Carol Browner, Clinton's competent former EPA administrator who became the consummate Washington insider. She's Madeline Albright's partner and recently married mega-lobbyist and former Rep. Tom Downey. During the uproar over Dubai taking over U.S. ports, Browner brought Downey to meet with Sen. Chuck Schumer to plead Dubai's case. Downey was paid half a million dollars to push Dubai's position. He's also a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, paid half a million to try to cover its rear on the subprime mortgage mess. Is this change?

Federico Pena was Clinton's secretary of transportation and of energy. The president felt he was unduly soft on ValuJet after its Florida crash and lost confidence in him. Now he's back as a Transition Committee member.

Bill Daley, Clinton's former secretary of commerce and the brother of the mayor of Chicago, is the epitome of the old Democratic establishment.

Clinton appointed him to the Fannie Mae Board, and his son worked as a lobbyist for the agency. Aren't these the kind of folks that Obama ran against?

Larry Summers, president of Harvard and former Clinton secretary of the treasury, is not exactly an outsider, either. He's also alienated more than a few with his bizarre suggestion that women may be genetically inferior to men in math and science.

Susan Rice, assistant secretary of state under Clinton, advised John Kerry and Mike Dukakis. Does that tell you enough?

Obama has named one of his big bundlers — Michael Froman, an executive at Citigroup. Is this supposed to symbolize change? Obama's choice of a spokesperson for the transition is also surprising — hers is definitely not the face of reason and new politics. Stephanie Cutter is the brash and combative former Clinton, Kerry and Ted Kennedy mouthpiece. The liberal DailyKos.com once described Cutter as "a moron to the nth degree" when she tried unsuccessfully to force The New York Times' Adam Nagourney to treat her unsolicited email criticizing Howard Dean as "background" without mentioning her name.

Speaking of brash, Rahm Emanuel, the new White House chief of staff, makes Cutter look timid. Rahm is also a former Clinton White House staffer — and a very obnoxious one. He spent his White House years leaking to The Washington Post whenever he didn't like what the president was doing. Even Bill Clinton stopped trusting him. Any hopes of Obama keeping his commitment to reach across the aisle would go right out the window with Rahm's appointment. Instead of extending a hand to the opposition, it would be like raising just one finger. And Rahm's strident demeanor laced with the 'f' word in every sentence will do little to elevate the bipartisan dialogue in Washington.

Christopher Edley, another member of the transition team, is dean of the Berkeley Law School. He's a former member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission under Clinton, and his wife, Maria Echaveste, was Clinton's deputy chief of staff.

Transition committee staffer Christine Varney was a federal trade commissioner under Clinton and worked in the White House.

Throughout the early debates, Obama criticized Hillary as part of the inside-the Beltway establishment that needed to go. But now he's reaching out to these exact same folks. Some change.

To find out more about Dick Morris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 DICK MORRIS AND EILEEN MCGANN

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

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Sir;... Why do I think of you as an insider, and why do I think you cannot possible be blind to the necessities of government??? You know the people, no matter how frustrated and disappointed the people are; that short of revolution, have absolutely no means to replace the whole government at once, and no method what ever to replace some parts, like the Supreme Court.... The presidency is no small prize... Its power has grown into that of a monarch, mostly because it takes less to move it, and it was designed for fast action, much as an Indian War Chief. -And yet, as has been shown, the insiders cannot be got rid of, or done without...They are an extra constitutional force, like the parties themselves, or the religious denominations...But the greatest power the presidency has, is default power... It is because the house of representatives has limited its number, and so, must fear the fickle fevers of the very people who elect them, so that they can do little more than agree with the president because they cannot risk to stand against him... They were not designed to agree, but to be a house of commons, and representative of the whole people. They would be a small army if the were elected at the ratio suggested by the constitution.... In the past, each vote would be cast out of certainty... If you represented thirty thousand, it is certain that you may have met each one, and be certain that the goal of one was the goal of all.. Now, districts are built deliberatly upon division, to deny to huge numbers their voice in government... This situation has increased the individual power of each vote, but it has robbed power from the whole house -which has been gained by the president...The key to reforming the government so that revolution is not necessary lies with the house... The Supreme Court has passed on the changes made by the house, and admittedly, there was a loophole in the constitution; but the reason government past served a happier population is because it was more representative... Each representative representing few numbers is the key to effective representative government... If the members of the house are willing to cut their individual power to have a more effective government for the people, the government can be saved, and the power of the presidency reined in... Sure, I think this is essential... and yet, I know it will never, ever happen... No person on the face of the earth has ever willingly given up a whisp of power... Revolutions become necessary because governments lose their life, which is the ability to adapt to changes, and to the changing needs of the people... We have been blessed in this land in not having powerful enemies, not having to support a huge military, and in having abundant resources and opportunity... But that is changing, and the growing population is under represented at the very moment that technology is empowering our enemies... The greatest weapon we could have against any enemy is a united population, united by justce, because justice is a cause for which all will fight while injustice makes only so many enemies...A powerful elected monarch is no more secure than the worst tyrant if there is unresolved division in the population, and our government has sowed divisions where it should have resolved them...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:44 AM
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