30
Nov
08

Silencing the competition

As much as I thought she’d be a phenomenal, powerhouse Senator, I buy the arguments that Sen. Clinton’s lack of seniority would limit her legislative effectiveness more than I’d like.  I am thrilled she’s accepting the SoS position, mainly because I think it signals that her known commitment to gender equity, human rights and human development is a central part of Obama’s diplomatic vision.  Her selection satisfyingly validates her untraditional foreign policy experience; who knew drinking tea with other women could turn out to be such critical diplomatic training?  /snark

That said, I am more than a little wary of centralizing Democratic power in the Executive Branch.  The Senate has now lost Biden and Clinton.  VP-Elect Biden has no particular agenda other than to advise Obama.  The Clinton Global Initiative can no longer convene world leaders around social change initiatives. Et cetera.

I’ve read that Obama is a leader who selects skilled deputies and then gives them the freedom to do good work.  Some of his transition choices demonstrate this possibility.  At the same time, who remains to provide a healthy check on and challenging support system for his agenda?  Yes, yes, I know we have Waxman in a good spot, and in theory Pelosi and Reid will grow a backbone and drive some liberal legislation.   But this reminds me of Obama’s efforts to sideline 527s during the general election, and direct all fundraising to his campaign.

I find myself in an interesting position as a Clinton primary supporter; I have tremendous respect for Obama, am thrilled with his win, and like him and feel more comfortable with his leadership in large part because his most irritating fauxgressive supporters have steam coming out of their ears at some of his choices – and are perhaps crying softly into their pillows at night over the betrayal.  The stakes could not be higher for the Obama Administration, and I’m cautiously optimistic that in four years we will be living in a better world due to his team’s leadership.

But…

If he fails, he’s bringing a lot of good names – and their own well-established networks and infrastructures – down with him.  And in the event of a 1994-esque GOP renaissance (though I don’t see how that’s possible in 2 years), I wonder who’s dispersed through the system to beat back such an uprising.

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2 Responses to “Silencing the competition”


  1. November 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    If he fails, he’s bringing a lot of good names – and their own well-established networks and infrastructures – down with him.

    Which is a smart strategy for him, of course – making the powerhouses of the party dependent on him is a good way to silence criticism from the left – but from a risk-averse perspective, it’s damned selfish, is what it is. He’s going to have to take some chances to fix things, he should let the party hedge its bets.

  2. December 1, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Very interesting perspective. It brings to mind many things I’ve read that indicate Obama has been trying to take charge of the Democratic party. There are reports recently that his team wants to keep his mailing list separate from the DNC because not all of his supporters are Democrats. Some of the arguments are persuasive, but it’s clear he’s going to use it to push his agenda by encouraging people to pressure their Senators and Representatives to pass the bills he wants. I’m not putting on my tinfoil hat or anything, but all the focus on organizing around Obama as an individual, rather than trying to gain party loyalty from his Republican and Independent supporters doesn’t sit right with me. That fight is going to have to be fought all over again if people don’t associate what they like about Obama with a party platform.

    So I can’t help but be prompted by your post to think that concentrating the Democratic power in the executive – around Obama – further promotes the “Obama brand,” rather than a platform that will gain support that is sustainable in the long term.


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