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Obama’s anti-Bush cabinet
How the incoming team of big personalities signals change
 

Barack Obama unveiled the last of his major cabinet picks Monday, said Frank James in the Chicago Tribune online, and if we've learned anything from his selections, it’s that “his presidency will be far different than the past eight years.” By choosing pragmatists with strong personalities and opinions, Obama is saying that he “can handle disagreement and in fact welcomes it”—a departure from President Bush’s premium on aides who agreed with him.

Obama says that being surrounded by “strong personalities” will prevent “groupthink,” said The Washington Post in an editorial, but the opposite could also be true. His team is so “eager to correct the perceived errors of the Bush administration” that it could collectively place too much emphasis on “better diplomacy” over force. If they’re wrong, “someone in this group will need to speak up.”

The other threat from Obama’s “potentially unruly roster of all-stars,” said David Ignatius in The Washington Post online, is that “these big egos” on his team could either fall into dysfunctional infighting, as happened with Bush’s once-lauded “dream team,” or usurp some of his authority. But if the unveiling of his national security picks is any indication, “this is Obama’s team; he’s clearly in charge.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise from Obama’s cabinet picks, said Mark McKinnon in The Daily Beast, is that Republicans are praising them. Karl Rove approves of Obama’s economic team and "GOP war horses like Henry Kissinger are falling all over themselves to praise” the foreign policy team. Bush promised to “change the tone in Washington,” but Obama might succeed.

 

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