President-elect Obama responded yesterday to some criticism that his developing administration looks more like the same-old rather than “change.” MSNBC reported:
“Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” he told reporters at his third press conference in as many days. “It comes from me. That’s my job, is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going, and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing.”
That brought some guffaws from some on the Right. But the President-elect is correct. All of those experienced advisors are unlikely to reach a consensus. (And when they do, they may be wrong and need to go back to the drawing board.) Inevitable conflicts between State and Defense will rage. What looked like a great appointment on paper may turn out to be a bust. Ultimately it will be up to the President to make all the tough calls (the easy ones get decided before they hit his desk), and he alone will bear the responsibility if things go poorly, if the economic vision is flawed, if his decision making process gets bogged down and if underlings err or misbehave. It will be up to him whether we chart a new course, replay the tired nostrums of the past, or do a bit of both.
A few weeks after the election we have some, but not much, clarity about the President-elect. He seems inclined to favor experience and disinclined to stick to his Leftist national security rhetoric. He seems enamored of big spending and not so enamored, after all, of tax increases. But it really is all in the execution and all in the implementation. It is simply too early to tell how he plans to govern and what balances he will strike. Thousands of decisions, speeches, pieces of legislation and appointments are ahead. And along the way we’ll find out more. But President-elect Obama is right about one thing: in the end it is all about him.