Chris Hayes at The Nation:
Not a single, solitary, actual dyed-in-the-wool progressive has, as far as I can tell, even been mentioned for a position in the new administration. Not one. Remember this is the movement that was right about Iraq, right about wage stagnation and inequality, right about financial deregulation, right about global warming and right about health care. And I don’t just mean in that in a sectarian way. I mean to say that the emerging establishment consensus on all of these issues came from the left. There’s tons of things the left is right about that aren’t even close to mainstream (taking a hatchet to the national security state and ending the prison industrial complex to name just two), but hopefully we’re moving there.
This, combined with my other posts on the ideological makeup of Obama’s cabinet, brings something to mind: What’s going on now is a game of political positioning. Republicans are going to claim Obama’s cabinet is too liberal no matter who he includes; this way, they can always advocate for more conservative policies and people, as well as criticize anything Obama and his cabinet do as being too liberal, having dictated in the public’s mind the ideological position of Obama’s cabinet (never mind the actual ideological position; I’m talking politics and public perception here).
Funny thing is, Hayes is right. Conservatives may be screaming about Hillary Clinton or the presence of several Clinton-era staffers in th WH, but all of those people are centrists, or, at most, center-left. There really are no flat-out progressives in Obama’s cabinet thus far – he has been making picks based far more on experience than ideology. I’m not going to wade into that debate (cabinet head as policymaker vs. administrator), but as Hayes gets at in the second part of that quote, none of the people Obama has selected thus far were pushing the policies that got Obama elected. Those came from farther left (as they always do): Grassroots activists, scientists, progressive think thanks, the internet, from abroad, etc.
As Digby notes, Obama’s neoliberal cabinet is going to have to put forth a fairly liberal agenda, at least initially, because the situation demands it:
The only question is if they will be competent at carrying out liberal economic policies,or if they will persist in the current program of badly structured bailouts of badly run companies. Let’s hope it’s the former, because the latter is just more of what Bernanke calls “finger in the dike” economics and they ain’t working.
I’m personally thinking it’s going to be the latter.
Bear in mind, however, that on some level we’re talking about splitting ideological hairs. The diversity of thought present in the current political elites makes a mockery of both diversity and thought. Heck, there’s even more evidence that the two-party system is really a one-ideology system with two faces:
A senior Obama campaign official shared with The Washington Note that in July 2008, the McCain and Obama camps began to work secretly behind the scenes to assemble large rosters of potential personnel for the administration that only one of the candidates would lead.
Lists comprised of Democrats and Republicans were assembled, sorted into areas of policy expertise, so that the roster could be called on after the election by either the Obama or McCain transition teams.
When the boundaries of one’s political worldview are the edges of the Democratic and Republican parties, we’re proper fucked. There’s so much more going on out there than squabbling over the size of the capital gains tax cut.