Barack Obama’s signature issue in the primaries was his “good judgment” to oppose the Iraq war. He invoked this more than any other qualification in his early battles with Hillary Clinton. She may have experience, he’d charge, but she lacked the wisdom to oppose the war. Indeed, the whole Democratic establishment was somehow corrupt or out of touch for not opposing the war, according to the Obamaphiles. So now Barack Obama is going to appoint Hillary Clinton to be the chief architect of his foreign policy. Moreover, he picked Joe Biden to be his running mate and “partner” in the White House explicitly because of his foreign policy experience and judgment. But wait: Joe Biden, too, supported the war. Meanwhile, at Defense, it looks like he will keep George W. Bush’s man, Robert Gates. Admittedly, Gates has always been more nuanced about the war than, say, Don Rumsfeld. But surely keeping Bush’s SecDef is not exactly what the anti-war Dems had in mind as “change we can believe in.” Heck, Joe Lieberman’s sitting pretty and he endorsed McCain. It will be interesting to see how long Obama’s charisma can paper over reality.
Update: From a reader:
Jonah – as conservatives, aren’t almost all of the developments you’ve listed good things? Maybe I’m trying too hard to find silver linings here, but Clinton’s foreign policy views frighten me much less than her domestic agenda, and less still than Obama’s. Keeping Gates would be a sign he’s not *that* hasty about pulling out of Iraq, or, at the very least, that he’s not looking for a “helicopter escape from rooftop embassies” exit.
Right now, I’m giving Obama the benefit of the doubt, and hoping he emerges as the pragmatist he portrays. Now if he’d just tap Romney to administer the auto bailout…
-NR Subscriber in Boston
Me: Short answer because I am swamped: Yes, they’re probably good things. Though, again, it depends what he actually does. This could be a brilliant LBJesque way of getting opponents inside the tent peeing out, enabling him to do the very bad things some of us fear. Or, it’s a sign that he’s just a cynical, conventional, politician who brilliantly played his supporters’ idealism against them to get power. It feels a little weird to be rooting for the latter, but you get over it quickly.