Sunday, December 07, 2008

Obama’s Administration

There have been lots of editorials in American Newspapers and commentary about cabinet secretaries Obama has appointed so far. From Economist, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times to Times of India; universally these appointments have been praised. Good luck to this Administration since it is very much needed.

This is all fine and quite a competent show of presidential business. Without a capable cabinet no President will be able to go far. So it is necessary and it is reassuring that Obama and his Transition Team have delivered on this. But again, the key is in the field, when the rubber hits the road on Jan 20, 09. We still distinctly remember the ‘awe and shock’ when Bush assembled the team of Powell, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz and gang in his first term. But it could not save Bush Administration from the core judgmental flaws of President and Vice President themselves (or the baggage carried by Bush and Cheney).

Obama has shown remarkable grip on the judgment. More importantly ‘no drama and theatricals’ philosophy of both Obama and Biden has served them well and will be one of the greatest assets of Obama Administration if it remains that way.

However, he is not as flawless as like his campaign when the issue of judgment about national importance comes. As everyone knows, he got his strategic call right about Iraq (Hillary and Biden did not); but missed the tactical call about the ‘Iraq surge in 2007’ (1) . So we can not say that it is all going to be flawless in Obama Administration. Fortunately, Obama has that much humility not to assume any such infallibility.

When Obama appoints Gen. Shinseki as his VA Secretary, he gets someone on his team who got the core strategic calls right about Iraq war too. This is a great appointment and even a commoner or cynical blogger can not avoid noticing the significance it. Very remarkable turn of events.

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(1) Most net-roots missed this call including this blogger who was not enthusiastic about the surge but accepted the Presidential prerogative – political necessity – when Congress wrongly tried to stop funding that surge. It was Joe Klein of Time who called the bluff of the Congress then when argued how it was inevitable for the Congress to fund that surge. Ironically, the same Klein in writing a kind of valedictory piece on Bush; does not credit Bush on his quintessentially presidential moment in devising and deciding for the surge.

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