Barack Obama’s cabinet is drawing praise for all the wrong reasons, starting with the mad-dog right — like Anne Coulter, who says she can’t fault it, or Karl Rove, who heaped praise on Obama’s economic team in a Wall Street Journal column. Move to the corporate mainstream and there’s measured congratulation for the respectability of Obama’s team — pro-biz, pragmatic and, whether proximately from the Bush or Clinton administrations, often at source from Harvard.
So far as the progressive Obama base is concerned, it’s been one bitter pill after another, starting with Rahm Emanuel (the only man in the Illinois congressional delegation to vote yes to the war on Iraq), moving on to Hillary Clinton (another yes on the war), Robert Gates, and the whole economic team. There was a brief ray of hope when Larry Summers didn’t return to Treasury. Then he bobbed up as director of Obama’s economic recovery team, formally known as the National Economic Council, based in the White House.
What is Obama’s progressive base getting by way of reward? The pickings are very slim. Nowhere has business-as-usual more glaringly been given the green light than at the Department of Defense. Anyone looking for change in America’s political economy has to take on the Pentagon, a vast and steadily widening crater of corruption and Augean waste. Obama has simply kept on Robert Gates, who first made his name faking intelligence estimates at the CIA in Bush Sr.’s day, exaggerating Soviet military strength and aggressive intentions. Nominated as Gates’ No. 2, presumptively as Gates’ successor, is William Lynn. Appointed by Clinton as a Pentagon reformer in ’98, Lynn — in the words of famed Pentagon employee/assailant Chuck Spinney — “managed to construct a logically inconsistent and morally indefensible strategy to protect the unworkable status quo.”
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