December 17, 2008 [LINK / comment]
It seems that most of Barack Obama's latest cabinet nominees are either pals from Chicago or colleagues in the U.S. Senate and House. Here are the latest names:
Secretary of Education-designate Duncan is a top administrator in the Chicago school system, and plays basketball with Obama. As the Washington Post reported, "The president-elect has not taken sides in a debate between reform advocates and powerful teachers unions, and choosing Duncan seems to be a consensus move likely to appeal to both." This makes it clear that, under the Obama administration, change does not necessarily mean reform. It's also odd that Obama acted as though the scandal involving Gov. Blagojevich didn't even happen, as he named yet another crony from the murky waters of Chicago politics. Further downstate in Illinois (Peoria and thereabouts), Obama is about to name Rep. Ray LaHood to be Secretary of Transportation, his first choice of a Republican so far.
Speaking of which, we should remember Obama's political and real estate connections to Tony Rezko, who was convicted of bribery. As I noted on Sept. 20, Obama has somehow eluded any blame for the financial crisis. Last March, Bob Novak dug up a lot of dirt about this connection. So far, it's just the appearance of impropriety, so let's not jump to conclusions. According to factcheck.org, "Obama has a relationship with Rezko that dates back many years, but there's no indication Obama did anything improper."
Also, former EPA chief Carol M. Browner will be named to a "czar" position, coordinating climate, environment and energy issues. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) later this week to serve as secretary of the interior. Gov. Bill Ritter may pick Rep. John Salazar, Ken's brother. (I'm sure there will be no hint of office-auctioning à la Chicago.) It's a strange situation, because Rep. Mark Udall, who just won the other Senate seat in Colorado in the elections last month, will become the state's senior senator as soon as he takes the oath of office! Two years ago, both Colorado senators were Republican, but neither Ben Nighthorse Campbell nor Wayne Allard wanted to run for another term, and now the Democrats control both seats. See Yahoo News.
To no one's surprise, Barack Obama was just named "person of the year" by Time Magazine.
Richard Viguerie has given us another perfect example of the "Cognitive dissonance" that is currently so widespread among the Republican "Base." Apparently unaware (or just pretending to be) that the right wing already controls the party machinery in most of the country, he is now so fed up that he wants his right-wing people to organize outside the party:
It's critical for conservatives to also operate independently of the GOP and launch thousands of new organizations at the national, state, and local level, dealing with narrowly focused issues, public education, or maybe in your local community it might be property rights, it could be taxes, whatever the issue might be, work on those issues wherever your abilities and talents lead you to.
Absolutely amazing. What he describes is how the Republican Party operates right now, being hamstrung (or even held hostage) by hundreds of special-interest groups that demand compliance with their demands or else they will withhold money and votes. Policy is not deliberated within the party organization, it is set by those outside activist groups, such as Americans for Tax Reform and various Religious Right PACs. If I had to write a prescription on how the Republican Party could totally destroy itself, I couldn't do any better than what Viguerie has written. It's a truly awful situation, because there are millions of mainstream conservatives who agree with him on most of the issues, but "The Base" simply refuses to give an inch for their so-called "principles." Result: We keep losing elections, and the country slouches ever-so-gradually toward socialism. Viguerie also defends "full-fledged conservatism against the naysayers," citing a piece by Quin Hillyer that denounces Kathleen Parker, one of my favorite critical-minded conservatives. I will never understand how people such as Viguerie who don't have a clue about the fundamental give-and-take nature of politics ever got so far.