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Obama in transition
What the president-elect's first moves say about the nature of his administration
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arack Obama's transition is off to a good start, said David Broder in The Washington Post. "His few public appearances have been gaffe-free, and his initial decisions in setting up his administration have been strongly reassuring." Obama's victory speech, his meeting with President Bush, and his pick of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff suggest the skills he used to put together his campaign, which was "a model of efficiency and innovation," are helping him build an administration that will be able to get things done.

Let's hope so, said Karen Tumulty in Time online. "Even in the calmest of times, the transfer of presidential power is a tricky maneuver"—with two wars and a deep financial crisis in the works, Obama really has to hit the ground running. "That's why Obama has been quicker off the blocks than any of his recent predecessors were, particularly Bill Clinton, who did not announce a single major appointment until mid-December."

It's too early to make "sweeping conclusions," said John Bolton in The Wall Street Journal, but not all signs are encouraging. Obama has already had a misunderstanding with Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who says Obama plans to continue a joint missile-defense project with Poland. The Obama transition issued a rebuttal and reaffirmed its "weak and ambiguous" commitment to missile defense only when the technology proves workable—not a confidence builder in the foreign policy department.

Which brings us to a big focus of Obama's transition, said Liam Julian in National Review Online, lowering expectations. Obama aides are trying to temper hopes that the new president will fix America's problems quickly. So, the hope-and-change candidate is changing his tune -- we'll find out in January whether the words Obama used to inspire his "tearful admirers" had any meaning at all.

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