It doesn’t matter what Barack Obama does with his Presidential appointments. They will make somebody unhappy.
Democrats are upset because he isn’t stacking his cabinet with left-wingers bent on imposing an extreme radical agenda on American government.
Republicans complain that his cabinet isn’t bi-partisan enough.
The right is mad. So is the left. Hell, even the centrists are bitching.
I have problems with some of the appointments Obama has made. I think bringing Hillary Clinton into the nest will come back to haunt him. So will his ethically-challenged attorney general pick, Eric Holder, and new commerce secretary Bill Richardson, a notorius fabricator of resumes. But Joe Biden’s history of plagiarism and fabrications didn’t keep him off Obama’s Presidential ticket and they won anyway so maybe Obama’s charisma can overcome the many faults of his administration choices.
While I don’t agree with some of Obama’s choices, I see what he’s trying to do and that’s build a diverse team that will hope build coalitions in Washington. Coalitions are a necessary evil in getting things done and you can’t get anywhere without crawling into bed with someone with fleas.
Obama’s biggest obstacle, however, may come from the rabid partisans who helped put him into office. Like so many parties who win elections because of widespread public dissatisfaction with the other side, Democrats mistake the results of November as a mandate to impose their will, no matter how extreme, on the nation. Republicans made the same mistake when they won control of Congress in 1994 and George W. Bush misinterpreted his win as "political capital" that would let him do whatever he wanted without the normal checks and balances of government.
But the Democratic establishment should remember that Obama ran as much against them as he did against Bush and the Republican party. Government excess did not begin on Jan. 20, 2001 when Bush took office. It existed and prospered under Bill Clinton, during daddy Bush’s one term and thrived during Ronald Reagan’s eight years in power.
Obama ran against the system itself, not a system defined by a partisan view from one side or the other. That system broke a long time ago and Democrats have inflicted just as much damage on it as Republicans.
Of course, Obama may have negated some of the hope for change that he fostered by bringing insiders like Hillary Clinton into his administration. Then again, he might be remembering the advice of Chinese general Sun Tzu: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."
Still, it remains to be seen if Obama’s powerful personality and will can change the retreads brought into his administration.
During my 23 years in Washington, I saw a lot of idealists come to town wanting to change the system.
In the end, the system changed each one of them.
Let’s hope Obama can break that trend.