This is how I plan to dress if I'm ever invited to the White House. So we're sitting at the big table with the grown-ups, and Barack is choosing his cabinet, and pundits I used to think of as intelligent (smarter than a Republican anyway) are already bitching about the choices. Welcome to the difference between bitching and governing, a moral struggle the Grover Nyquists and Gingriches never grappled with at all.
I'm no fan of the Clinton years either (and a digression here to explain why I don't like them would only give the Clintons what they want)but damnit, the only Democrats younger than Clark Clifford who can find the White House washrooms all worked for the Clinton administration. So deal with it. I was going to use a Lyndon Johnson quotation here: "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in," but Sam Donaldson, comfortable millionaire and bloviator, already beat me to it, the cost of my procrastination.
The complaint assumes that a wonk who worked for President Clinton will still follow Clinton-era policies under an Obama administration. In my own small experience with bureaucracies, I've seen teachers and nurses who bitch and moan about policy as a matter of course learn to prosper and produce after a change in administration, like desert plants waiting, begging for the rain. This is a chance to shine.
I asked an acquaintance, a professor of political science with experience in city planning, economic development, and capital budgeting-- hence the only person I know with more than barroom expertise in economics-- what she thought of Obama's picks for dealing with the crisis. Her opinion, mixed with backstage talk from a relative at the Fed, was that the Obama appointments are mildly disappointing, uncontroversial, but probably politically "safe".
I wonder if the so-called "carping from the left" is real, or if this is just another manufactured pissing match invented by columnists who would rather write about sexy conflict than how in the hell we're going to budget the rebuilding of bridges and schools. Me, I'm just happy to exult in feeling that the president is smarter than I am, better organized and hipper than I am, and can be trusted to hire really, really smart and well-intentioned people. Yes, this is me, the perpetual outsider, sighing like a fractious dog who's finally had the thorn removed from his paw.
The challenge for the progressive left has little to do with who's at the top of the agency, except as they affect the climate. Here's the challenge: whether you're interested in housing the homeless or protecting our groundwater or teaching a child the difference between bullshit and biscuits, we are finally in an environment that is friendly towards problem solving instead of actively hostile. What are we going to do in the lame duck session?