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Column: Obama's Cabinet Appointments Contradict With Message

This story was written by Alex Knepper, The Eagle


Now that he no longer has to pretend to be a tax-cutting, corruption-busting, lobbyist-defying, bipartisan agent of reform, our illustrious president-elect, Barack Obama, has decided that he's more interested in bringing together a team of people who will ensure that he doesn't do anything stupid than he is in bringing about any sort of fundamental change. Perhaps he's realized that he's not quite sure what exactly he's supposed to do, given that he spent almost his entire time in the Senate running for the presidency. But let's give the man a break. After all, who better, really, to ensure integrity in the White House than Bill Clinton's friends?

Let's review: our next Attorney General looks to be Eric Holder, a former No. 2 in the Clinton Justice Department. Our next secretary of state? Possibly Bill Clinton's wife. Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ronald Klain, also served as Al Gore's chief of staff. John Podesta, the man heading up Barack Obama's presidential transition team, was Bill Clinton's deputy chief of staff. Rahm Emanuel, a former senior Clinton adviser, will serve as Obama's chief of staff. Obama's chief counsel will be Greg Craig, a former Clinton lawyer. Other former Clinton cabinet members that have found their way into Obama's team so far include: William Daley, Carol Browner and Federico Pena. It's not known at press time whether Monica Lewinsky will serve as an intern.

And what about those wicked lobbyists? On the campaign trail, Obama declared decisively "they won't find a job in [his] White House." Now that he doesn't have to tell people what they want to hear anymore, he's sounding a whole lot more like Hillary Clinton, who famously defended the role of lobbyists in front of MoveOn.org's annual conference. The Obama team has instituted a weird, arbitrary rule that says: if a lobbyist hasn't worked on behalf of any particular interest in more than a year, he is free to join the administration. I suppose this would help explain why Biden's chief of staff is a former lobbyist for Fannie Mae.

Of course, to anyone who has actually paid attention to Obama's record, this isn't particularly shocking: before he ran for president, he gladly dealt with lobbyists, taking plenty of money from them, including those of large insurance corporations. So now we know exactly how long Obama opposed lobbyists for: from the day he began running for the presidency until the day voters elected him.

Obama's knee-jerk opposition to lobbyists and weird, undefined fetishism for change was never one of his stronger intellectual selling points; to a Republican observer such as myself, these developments are actually quite welcome. Obama's clearly a smart - if incredibly deceptive - fellow and these appointments should make the American people more comfortable with him than they were. If the worst that happens to this nation is a retread of the Clinton years, then the potential for redistribution of wealth should be a whole lot less terrifying than eye-rolling ourselves to death over the years to come.

But what should the Obama Cult do now? The man has turned off the switch on the "Hopenosis" and has revealed the "Change Brigade" for the useful idiots that they were. Even Obama's early opposition to the war in Iraq is looking increasingly meaningless, given that his vice-president and probable secretary of state were among the biggest Democratic cheerleaders for it. What should the cult do, then? Take it as a wonderful lesson about how fundamental change isn't the name of the game in American politics. In D.C., the more things change, they more they stay the same.

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