Many who voted for Barack Obama are concerned over his appointments of former Clinton administration people and the retention of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Reality is there have only been two Democratic Presidents during the past thirty years–Carter and Clinton-so anyone with experience in government most probably served under Clinton. Obama has carefully read about the first year of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration and is copying some of its characteristics. FDR focused initially on calming people and restoring confidence of the business community. Obama had to select people like Paul Volker and the new secretary of the Treasury in order to send a signal to Wall Street they could calm down and stop worrying.
Franklin Roosevelt was rather conservative during his initial months in office, and one should expect Obama to move along a similar path. We can expect (a) restoring public confidence that everything will be OK, (b) a $1 Trillion public works, rebuilding infrastructure and financing new environment industries to create millions of jobs; (3) a health care plan that incorporates all children since that would be easy to get through Congress, (d0 the end of the Bush tax cuts and a small tax cut for the middle class, (e) more federal aid to deal with student loans. These steps would impact millions and restore a sense that things are moving along. That is the most important first step in restoring economic health.
The appointment of Gates and Hillary Clinton means these individuals will now be implementing Obama’s ideas, not the other way around. Troops will begin leaving Iraq by summer and the withdrawal will be handled by the Republican Gates. This is an excellent political move on the part of Obama. He is anticipating what critics will say and by having a Republican Defense secretary implement the evacuation it prevents Republicans from creating turmoil by complaining. The key to Obama during his first year is to initiate programs that will not create turmoil and conflict.
We can expect that Congress will be more aggressive and liberal than Obama. Actually, this is what happened under FDR. He responded to pressure by moving to the left since he could argue unless he did so, there would be conflict in society. Obama will display his more open approach to government and he will end Bush executive orders which damage the environment and have created the debacle known as Guantanamo.
We can expect by year two of the Obama administration he will be pushing for a more extensive national health insurance plan and institute such plans as a National Service Corps for young people.
In a sense, Obama simultaneously will be going to the right, to the left and remaining in the center. That is the mark of a good political leader.