The Consummate Politician

Count me in as one of those who have been impressed by President-elect Obama thus far. Mr. Obama has been just about spot-on in his efforts during this transition period. Granted, the Bush administration has been extremely generous to the incoming Obama team, as they should be given the current state of affairs, but Mr. Obama has been thoroughly diligent and impressively pro-active in the process. Obama and Bush have continually met over the last couple of weeks, in an effort that the Obama camp has deemed necessary in order to “hit the ground running.”

But what is most encouraging thus far is that Mr. Obama doesn’t appear to be the left-wing ideologue that so many of us were unsure of and uneasy about during the primary season. As expected, Mr. Obama tempered his rhetoric in the general election in an effort to reach out to undecided moderates and independents. His blueprint was remarkably successful.

Now, however, we are beginning to see which direction the new administration will go in and what kind of “change” will be on the docket for the next four years. So far it looks more like Mr. Obama isn’t the typical left-wing charlatan that is so prevalent in our mainstream media: Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, to name a few. Instead, up to today, he has been the antithesis of what the liberal media elite anticipated. Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised if Mr. Obama’s harshest criticisms comes from his own party, particularly those on the far left.

Mr. Obama seems to be outsmarting everyone these days. He first took on Senator Clinton’s campaign by running left of the initial Democratic Party favorite. Next he continued to out-maneuver and out-hustle the Republican Party by winning the tax issue and taking a more centrist stand. But now the question should be posed: has the President-elect outsmarted some of his own voters, his die-hard, far left supporters? If so, then there is reason for optimism on many issues, including the economy and Iraq.

It has been noted by Democrats in the Chicago political machine that Mr. Obama is not the radical, left-wing ideologue that many make him out to be. He is, rather, a pragmatic and shrewd politician, who like any good salesman has mastered the art of manipulation. While there is no doubt Mr. Obama holds dear to some of the idealistic and utopian — yet utterly unreliable — programs such as universal healthcare and a redistribution of income, “Senator Stealth” has thus far implemented “change” very marginally at best.

It is quite ironic that Mr. Obama’s shift in plans now resembles much of what Mr. McCain espoused throughout the campaign. From lower taxes to a steady and sizeable troop presence to remain in Iraq, Mr. Obama’s original tax plan and initial promise for immediate withdrawal always seemed far-fetched and nothing more than a campaign tactic to woo the left. Reality has set in, and Mr. Obama has responded appropriately.

More troubling for the far left are the recent nominations and potential nominations to fill Mr. Obama’s administration. Recently, President-elect Obama reaped the praises of one of his biggest critics, Karl Rove, for his “reassuring assembly of a first-rate economic team.” Furthermore, Rahm Emanuel, Ret. Gen. Jim Jones, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates — on top of his earlier choice for VP, Joe Biden — can hardly constitute as “Change.” They do, however, represent pragmatism and the necessary experience to counteract quite possibly the most inexperienced president this nation has ever elected. It was Mr. Biden that said back in the primaries that “[t]he presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training,” referring to his superior.

If the first few weeks of Mr. Obama’s role as president-elect are any indication, “change” might soon be up there with such leaders as Nasser, Peron and Khomeini coming to power under transformational campaign slogans that inevitably never came to fruition. The jury is still out, but “Change we can believe in” appears to be a paper tiger, or to quote the ever-ready and always witty Dennis Miller, “an empty suit and an insult to hangers everywhere.” And that’s a good thing.