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As Barack Obama completes the selection of his staff and Cabinet, there’s been some talk about how many liberals are supposedly angry at him.
Some have tried to drum up a story that many on the left are upset about one or two Cabinet choices and feel that the president-elect is already backing away from some of the promises of his campaign.
I’m here to tell you it’s not so. Personally, I don’t know a single person who voted for Obama who has had a bad thing to say about Cabinet choices or other steps the president-elect has taken that supposedly undercut any of the vision of his campaign.
First, the choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state is just brilliant. Obama knows that she is probably the most famous American woman in the world. Upon confirmation, she will command respect from world leaders around the globe. Her first job will be to lay the groundwork for restoring the support for America that so many countries lost as they watched Bush and Cheney show their contempt for international law.
The decision to keep Robert Gates as defense secretary is also a wise move. Gates surely understands that under Obama he will have a new mission: Get us out of Iraq. Get us out “responsibly,” as Obama puts it. But get us out nonetheless. It will be up to the new president to reverse the worst foreign policy blunder ever committed by an American government. Obama has not budged one inch from that commitment.
In Afghanistan, he appears to want to make one last attempt to win that war militarily. But that, too, may prove to be an illusion. The Russians eventually pulled out of that country after the hard lessons they learned trying to fight in that terrain.
If there ever really was any real “war on terror,” it was always in Afghanistan and never in Iraq. So one final effort there might make sense. But there’s not likely to be a John Wayne-type ending to that conflict, either.
There’s also been some silly talk about Obama having to resist pressure from “extremists” in the Democratic Party about carrying out some allegedly far-left agenda. Well, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that a Democratic president will work with a Democratic-controlled Congress to carry out a (surprise again!) Democratic agenda.
Yes, you could even call it the title of this humble column, both reviled and beloved, the “liberal agenda,” because that’s exactly what it will be. Many conservatives still haven’t come to terms with how thoroughly their policies were rejected on Nov. 4. But it’s time they started moving beyond their pain and look at the reality of what happened. Conservatism lost; liberalism won.
The liberal agenda means health care for all Americans, a tax cut for the middle class, not the richest Americans, a new foreign policy that’s not based on “pre-emptive war,” and a commitment to use the federal government to help create two million jobs.
These are the policies that a clear majority of Americans chose when they voted last month. Had they not wanted these things, John McCain would be the president-elect now.
So, again….liberals aren’t angry at Barack Obama. We are extremely proud of him; his triumph represents what we’ve been trying to achieve for a long time. He will no doubt disappoint some of us in some way here or there - most presidents do that to some element of their backers - but not in any lasting way.
America, a center-left country with a new liberal majority that has now won, can look forward to the enactment of its liberal agenda.
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, is a member of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee, and can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.