Barack Obama recruits critic of Bush's Iraq strategy :
"Obama, in announcing the selection of Eric Shinseki, as veterans' affairs secretary, made it clear that he saw the choice as vindication of a general whose advice - had it been heeded - could have reduced the toll of the Iraq war.
Shinseki, who was army chief of staff only to be disregarded and later vilified by Pentagon chief at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, and the deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, for telling Congress in February 2003 that keeping order in Iraq after the invasion would need several hundred thousand troops.
'No one will ever doubt that this former army chief of staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our veterans,' Obama told a press conference in Chicago announcing the appointment yesterday"
E. J. Dionne Jr. - Obama's Choice of Eric Shinseki:
"Morally, Shinseki's appointment marks the vindication of a man who was punished for telling the truth in the run-up to the Iraq war.
As the Army's chief of staff, Shinseki famously told Congress in February 2003 that 'several hundred thousand soldiers' would be needed to stabilize Iraq. A month before the Iraq invasion, he predicted that because of 'ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems,' it would take 'a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment.'"
The Shinseki appointment gives Obama a way to marry the Democrats' twin critiques of the Bush past. The new president has sent a strong signal that he will listen more closely than his predecessor did to doubters and skeptics in the uniformed ranks. And by making an admired soldier responsible for helping veterans recover from their wounds and rebuild their lives, Obama aims to show that his party's commitment to the needs of those who served their country was more than just campaign chatter.
E. J. Dionne Jr. - Worried on the Left :
"But there's another problem with the 'disillusioned left' story line. If those looking for a split consulted with the most progressive members of Congress, they would discover a certain serenity about the direction the next president will take.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who proudly describes himself as a democratic socialist, has as much of a claim as anyone to speak for the left. He says those who see Obama as drifting right are overlooking the importance of the president-elect's past as a community organizer and also his 'sense of history.'
'I believe he understands that he is coming into office at a time when the country faces more problems than at any time since 1933,' Sanders told me. 'The American people are prepared to support strong action.'"
It's also plain that Obama is no left-winger. In the 2008 Democratic primaries, John Edwards was the candidate of the economic left, Rep. Dennis Kucinich the standard-bearer of the staunchly antiwar left. Obama's campaign advisers were moderately progressive, not radical.
This means that parts of the political left will have some differences with Obama over the next four years, but it doesn't mean that most on the left are already disillusioned with him.
Take it from Arthur Schlesinger. In his 1960 diary entry, he ascribed to Kennedy the view that "especially with a liberal Congress, conservative-appearing men can win more support for liberal measures than all-outers." Schlesinger added: "Of course there is something to this argument."
Charles Krauthammer - Obama's Plan for a Domestic Transformation:
"Obama the centrist? I'm not so sure. Take the foreign policy team: Hillary Clinton, James Jones and Bush holdover Robert Gates. As centrist as you can get. But the choice was far less ideological than practical. Obama has no intention of being a foreign policy president. Unlike, say, Nixon or Reagan, he does not have aspirations abroad. He simply wants quiet on his eastern and western fronts so that he can proceed with what he really cares about -- his domestic agenda.
Similarly his senior economic team, the brilliant trio of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Paul Volcker: centrist, experienced and mainstream. But their principal task is to stabilize the financial system, a highly pragmatic task in which Obama has no particular ideological stake."
I am beginning to think that Obama's greatest trick is to let us read exactly what we want to read into him while going on to do exactly what he says he is going to do. Definitely channeling Lincoln.