(A) Name the high-profile Democratic strategist and former White House deputy chief of staff who said the following about President-elect Obama’s economic team: “He’s generally surrounded himself with intelligent, mainstream advisers. Investors, workers and business owners can only hope that, over time, this new administration’s economic policies bear more of their market-oriented imprint.”
(B) How about the veteran Democratic lawmaker (and former Navy secretary and Armed Services chairman) who said of Obama’s national security team: “The triumvirate of Gates, Clinton and Jones to lead Obama’s national security team instills great confidence at home and abroad, and further strengthens the growing respect for the president-elect’s courage and ability to exercise sound judgment in selecting the best and the brightest to implement our nation’s security policies.”
(C) And what about the former Democratic secretary of state who reacted to the idea of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state with this gusher of praise: “I believe it would be an outstanding appointment … it shows a number of things, including great courage on the part of the president-elect. To appoint a very strong personality into a prominent cabinet position requires a great deal of courage.”
All right, the Monitor was being a little disingenuous. The above statements were made not by Democrats but by Republican heavyweights (a) Karl Rove, (b) John Warner and (c) Henry Kissinger.
What’s going on here? It’s as simple as it is surprising: Republicans are in a state of swoon over Barack Obama, and the infatuation extends well beyond GOP officialdom: many conservative and centrist pundits who feared the Apocalypse with the election of Obama are besotted.
The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes writes that what’s most surprising isn’t “that Obama, despite his unswervingly liberal record in the Senate, turns out to be a pragmatist. The point is he’s pragmatic (so far) in one direction – rightward. Who knew?”
Elaborating, Barnes notes that “the scoreboard looks like this: Three of the four cabinet posts that matter most are going to those with views acceptable to the center-right of the Democratic party. That’s [treasury secretary nominee Timothy] Geithner, Clinton, and [defense secretary Robert] Gates…. Three out of four isn’t bad. Conservatives aren’t jumping for joy. But imagine how the left wing of the Democratic party – the dominant wing, after all – feels. Let down would be an understatement.” Matching Barnes in his wonderment is syndicated columnist Mona Charen, who – in a piece titled “Pinch Me, Am I Dreaming?” – writes, “Superstition almost forbids me to comment on President-elect Obama’s appointments thus far. The news has been so shockingly welcome that I’m almost afraid to remark on it for fear of breaking the spell.”
“Such reticence, Charen continues, “has not afflicted everyone on the right, though. Here’s Max Boot, conservative editorialist, author, and military historian: ‘I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain…’ Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, declared that the Obama administration was ‘off to a good start.’ And New York Times columnist David Brooks has acknowledged that he is ‘tremendously impressed.’”
John Avlon, a former New York Sun columnist who served as chief speechwriter and deputy communications director for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, praises Obama’s picks as representing “something of a centrist dream team, the latest sign of a confident, pragmatic president-elect who is fulfilling promises to appoint a ‘Team of Rivals’ while defying opposition campaign attempts to paint him as naïvely liberal.” Meanwhile, FrontPageMag.com’s David Horowitz, responding to e-mails from conservative readers critical of Obama’s selection of Clinton as secretary of state, posted an exasperated response on his website (all emphasis in original):
“Hillary Clinton is the Democrat MOST IDENTIFIED WITH REMOVING SADDAM HUSSEIN BY FORCE. She lost a presidency over it. So whatever low opinion you may have about Hillary, on foreign policy she is the very best choice for that position that conservatives could expect to get. Even better, because the ONLY issue that really divided Hillary and Obama was the Iraq War. So this is President Obama’s way of saying, ok now that I’m in office I’m going to put my anti-war commitments aside and put the defense of the country first. And in case you didn’t get that, I’m going to keep George Bush’s secretary of defense in place, and I’m going to appoint a conservative Marine general as my national security adviser.”
No wonder Mona Charen fairly chortles, “If I were a left-winger, I’d be tearing out my hair about now.”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org