Sunday, November 30, 2008

And Now, Playing Center...

Via BooMan, all the news on Obama's expected unveiling of his National Security Team(tm) tomorrow, including SecState Clinton.
The national security team roll-out is coming tomorrow, and the reporting has not changed.

CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama will roll out his national security team at a news conference here on Monday morning, including his former primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, as his secretary of state, Democrats close to the process said. Mrs. Clinton is flying to Chicago to appear beside the man who beat her for the Democratic nomination, a person close to Clinton said. Friends previously said she was prepared to join his cabinet in hopes of having more impact than she would in the Senate, but the person close to her said the decision is now official. In addition to Mrs. Clinton, Democrats said, Mr. Obama plans to announce that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has run the Pentagon for the last two years under President Bush. And they said Mr. Obama will appoint Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant and NATO supreme commander, as his national security adviser.

Rounding out his national security team, Mr. Obama will also name former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. as his choice for attorney general and Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona as secretary of homeland security, the Democrats said. Mr. Obama may also announce former Assistant Secretary of State Susan E. Rice as ambassador to the United Nations, a job that will be given cabinet rank in his cabinet, as it had under President Bill Clinton.

Bolstering the case that Clinton will be tapped for State, the New York Times and Washington Post are both reporting that Bill Clinton will release the names of over 200,000 donors to his library and foundation, paving the way for his wife's confirmation.

The former president has also agreed to allow the State Department and, potentially, the White House, to vet his personal business interests and speeches so as to avoid potential conflicts of interest, according to transition officials.

If the reporting is correct, one significant development is Susan Rice's appointment to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the restoration of that post to cabinet level. Rice and Holder would be the first African-Americans to hold their respective seats in a cabinet. Joining with the president-elect and Bill Richardson at the Commerce Department, they will present an image of diversity to the world.

The retention of Robert Gates is being well received at the Pentagon, and I have not seen one peep of criticism of Hillary Clinton from the right (there's a lesson in there, by the way). Obama appears to be avoiding the problems that beset Bill Clinton at the beginning of his administration. He is not going to allow himself to get crossways of the military, which is something JFK never recovered from after the Bay of Pigs.

The arguments given for Clinton and Gates et al. are that they work at the pleasure of the President, and if they don't enforce Obama's policies, they will be replaced with someone who will. Obama himself has made this argument last week when he said that the policy is coming from the top..."Me."

The argument against is where BooMan continues:

At this point, I am more interested in the who will be staffing the deputy and undersecretary positions at Defense and State. You may recall that most policy meetings are coordinated at the Deputies level. When the Bush administration kicked Richard Clarke out of the cabinet they also kicked him out of the principals meetings, and Clarke found it very difficult to get his Al-Qaeda warnings heard at the highest levels of government. But the Deputies Meetings are still where most of the choices are formulated for presentation to the principals, and it is therefore very important to have good, solid progressives in the deputy positions.
In other words, if Clinton and Gates staff these important positions with neo-con hawks, the advice Clinton and Gates are going to get are that of neo-con hawk positions, and that's what they will in turn feed to Obama. If everyone is telling you the same thing, you tend to trust and believe your have to.

Twenty plus years of neo-con ossification hardened the lines at State and Defense. The appointments of Clinton and the retention of Gates aren't real conducive to breaking up that hardened, hard-liner position that got us into Iraq.

Gates I expect to keep all his deputies. It's Clinton I'm far more worried about. If even the diplomats are saying "war war is better than jaw jaw" then we could be in for a mess. The lack of progressive voices in the name of political expediency could turn into a nightmare...on top of the nightmares we're already facing in this country.

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