The speculation over who will serve in the Obama administration continues at a fever pitch. Some early media reports suggest that some of Obama’s picks may run counter to the “change” narrative that has dominated his campaign for two years.
The Associated Press is reporting that Rahm Emanuel has been asked to serve as Obama’s Chief of Staff. Emanuel, who is apparently still mulling over his options, is a curious choice. While few doubt that Emanuel has the respect of his party — he is the fourth ranking House Democrat and has chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) — he is not generally viewed as a change agent.
In fact, as a member of the “New Democrat” Caucus and the conservative-leaning Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Emanuel is a pro-business Democrat who supported the War in Iraq and advocated for a run-to-the-right strategy that many think doomed the party for years. Adding to the intrigue, is the fact that Obama has made serious efforts to distance himself from this centrist coalition of Democrats, which is now infamous for its enthusiastic support for the invasion of Iraq.
In May 2003, when the DLC included Obama on its list of “100 New Democrats to Watch,” Obama responded in kind.
“I don’t know who nominated me for the DLC list of 100 rising stars, nor did I expend any effort to be included on the list…. I certainly did not view such inclusion as an endorsement on my part of the DLC platform.”
“The message was clear: The DLC needed Obama a lot more than Obama needed the DLC” wrote Ari Berman in the Nation.
Emmanuel was also an opponent of Howard Dean’s “50-state strategy.” Implemented in 2005, the year Dean was chosen to chair the Democratic National Committee, the plan eschews the old strategy of ignoring red states to focus on more winnable contests. The strategy has been widely viewed as a major success: Democrats have made huge gains in the 2006 and 2008 elections, including in some former Republican strongholds.
Of course, given the state of the economy, many are wondering who will replace Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Some media reports have heard names, and if the reports are accurate, it appears Obama may pick someone whose approach to solving the current crises is not too distant from Bush’s.
CNBC reports (Bold text in original article):
Newspaper reports suggested New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is being vetted for the position. Meanwhile we’re hearing other names on the short list include former Clinton Treasury head Larry Summers, New York Fed president Tim Geithner, former Fed Chair Paul Volker and possibly BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.
According Dylan Ratigan, it’s widely believed that Larry Summers is at the top of the list. What does that mean for the Street?
“I don’t think Larry Summers’ bag of tricks will be any different than Hank Paulsons” says CNBC’s Steve Liesman on Fast Money. In other words Summers basically agrees with the prescriptions made by the Bush administration.
The names listed above are all friends of Wall Street, and in most cases, have direct ties to the industries that have caused the most damage to the US economy. They would all likely favor the status quo on the crises, trade policy and the other basic staples of the American finance system.
Now, Obama has earned a lot of good will from liberals, so he may be afforded some latitude from his supporters “" such as unions and the liberal blogosphere. But the possibility exists that if Obama appoints a cabinet loaded with the old guard that dominated the last 30 years “" and certainly both parties have supported the deregulation that is now blamed for economic collapse “" some of his supporters may not be pleased.