Monday, November 24, 2008

Jackson is Furious and Limbaugh is Confused by Obama's Choices

Barack Obama is about to announce the make up of his economic team as Wall Street, Main Street, and the media pundits hold their collective breath. His choices appear to be very surprising. This is not because they are very radical, but surprisingly conventional. They are the type of choices that will likely relieve Wall Street and infuriate the radical base that brought him to power. Furthermore, all of those who wished Clinton had gotten elected, don't worry, your favorite members of that team are showing up for an encore. What is most surprising of all is that Obama seems to be drawing on the more pragmatic and technocratic wing of the Democratic Party. Limbaugh and Hannity might go crazy over how boring these choices are.

Don't get me wrong, this team is liberal. But it is not the rampant ideologues that had many on the Right worried. On the other hand, they could also be the ultimate collective Trojan Horse, creating a sense of complacency that may make it possible for Obama to pursue the far reaching agenda he campaigned on.

The following is a breakdown of two of his most prominent team members:

  • Timothy Geithner will be nominated as the new Secretary of Treasury. Geithner has worked in government almost his entire adult life with positions that have included Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Monetary and Financial Policy (1995-1996), Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs (1996-1997), and Assistant Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs (1997–1998). In 2003 he was appointed the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He has been a foot soldier of Bush's recovery efforts on Wall Street and was there when the disaster happened, which should raise questions as to why he would be a good Secretary of Treasury. However, I think he is a safe bet, since Democrats will want to make Obama look as strong as possible and Republicans will be pleased by such a "moderate" choice.

  • Lawrence Summers, who was Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton, will be appointed to head the National Economic Council. Summers is the poster child of technocrats. Under Obama, Summers will actually be the architect of the new administration's economic policies. Considering Summers' faux paux while President of Harvard in which he claimed that women were not as capable as men in performing the hard sciences, I was surprised to see him in politics again so soon. Not only did it leave to his quick departure as Ivy League administrator, I thought it would see him exit the political scene entirely. However, it appears Democrats can say things that are politically incorrect without consequence. Summers will be perceived moderate by the political powers that be and should enjoy confirmation without incidence.

In the end, what we learn, is that Obama is actually was quite impressed by the accomplishments of Bill Clinton, as we see the former President's influence in virtually every area of policy in the new President's appointments. It is safe to assume that the radicals that drove Obama to the White House are going to feel like they are in the out house, if the new President continues to make such safe appointments. They have to be patient for a while, but I am sure Jesse Jackson is already sharpening his verbal sword. Finally, conservative pundits must be at a lost trying to figure out what kind of President Obama will in fact be. I don't have any doubt what Obama would like to do. His radical up bringing and the course he took to power makes that obvious. However, he may be shrewed enough to know that his agenda will have to be pursued with caution and such is reflected in his team.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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