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Column: This Is Change I Can Count On

This story was written by Frannie Boyle, Vanderbilt Hustler


Just one month ago, radical Barack Obama supporters thought their all but elusive dreams had come true and they had won over the centrist moderation that had ruled the Democratic Party for so long. Unfortunately for the dreamers, Obamas first month as president-elect had given them reason to doubt that the changes he had promised will ever come to be.Obama has announced many of his cabinet picks already, and it looks like the White House is shaping up to be much more moderate than many expected. Obama ran his campaign on progressive change, but many of his appointments suggest that he may be going for something else.

His foreign policy and national security appointments suggest he will be taking a much more realistic approach to foreign affairs than he suggested he would during the campaign. Many are speculating that policies set by the late-term Bush administration will not change. He has chosen Jim Jones, a bipartisan figure known for his distinguished military experience, as his National Security advisor; he will be keeping President Bushs Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon for at least another year, which suggests his promise to get the troops out of Iraq in 16 months might not be fulfilled; and he has appointed relative centrist Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, which is perhaps his most controversial pick. These three alone will provide a diverse set of views, and many speculate they will support a more pragmatic foreign policy approach than Obama spoke of during the campaign.

Other picks include Bill Richardson, a renowned centrist Democrat, for secretary of commerce; Timothy Geithner, a right-of-center leader for secretary of treasury; and many former Clinton staffers. Larry Summers was Clintons former secretary of treasury, and now he has been appointed as Obamas economic advisor. Former political director for the Clinton administration, Rahm Emanuel, was appointed as Obamas chief of staff. Many others, like Eric Holder, who is Obamas choice for attorney general, served with the Clinton administration as well.

It does seem Obama is turning his back on his promise for change by reintroducing elements of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations, but he may not be doing it for political reasons. He may be choosing based on experience, and by stacking up leaders who are already comfortable in Washington, he is giving the American people a sense of stability. His current lineup will be able to take control come January. They will give confidence to the American people going through uncertain times with the economic crisis and the lack of leadership during the remaining month of Bushs presidency.

Obamas decisions have been surprising, and all the more respectable considering he won by such a large majority. They are pragmatic choices, and they will be the pragmatic leaders America may need to walk her through tough times. Conservatives can let out a big sigh of relief, at least for now, but ideologues --dont stop hoping because I am sure as things get better, Obama will be able to revert back to his focus on change.

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