Maybe everyone got fooled in this election. The Right believed as the Left did that the nation elected a man who would pull American policy in as sharply a liberal direction as anything since the Carter administration. After seeing most of Barack Obama’s selections for his Cabinet, however, the Left doesn’t get a sense of Carter deja vu as much as they detect a whiff of Bush:
Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.
Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.
Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.
“He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it’s all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.
OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?”
I wouldn’t go anywhere near that far. Democrats have all but one Cabinet appointment, although Bowers considered Defense a crown jewel for the Left. Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Bill Richardson, and Eric Holder all will have seats on Obama’s council, not one of them DINOs. Hillary Clinton even departed from her husband’s DLC positions on the campaign trail in a vain attempt to keep the nomination for herself.
Barack Obama himself has maintained the same economic populism that gained him the victory. His expansive (and expensive) public-works program comes right out of the liberal playbook, including its lack of funding. Where Obama has retreated economically, he has done so out of necessity. Oil now sells for a hundred dollars a barrel less than when he proposed those attacks on “Big Oil”. Only an ideologue would jack up taxes in the middle of the worst recession in decades. FDR and Hoover did that to disastrous results, and Obama doesn’t want to lose 100 seats in Congress in 2010.
However, on foreign policy, the Left has some basis for complaint. Instead of getting a foreign policy of which Zbigniew Brzezinski would be proud, Obama has become an apparent disciple of Brent Scowcroft and the Bush 41 administration. Gone are the plans for a Department of Peace, and instead Obama favors a projection of American power abroad, but under a more restrictive paradigm. The Right would prefer more John Bolton than Susan Rice, but otherwise their worst fears have gone mostly unrealized — depending on how much influence Samantha Power has over Hillary Clinton, which may be the most interesting internecine fight to watch in the first few months of the incoming administration.
During the election, Jim Geraghty and others of us warned voters that every Obama campaign position came with an expiration date. Maybe the Left should have paid more attention.
I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie
There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight …
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss