Little did we know that “Change we can believe in” really meant “Change that will delight the Right and freak out the Left.” But if the rumors and hints about President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet picks are any clue, it may be that both conservatives and liberals had Barack Obama pegged wrong.
If several months ago someone had said that the Obama administration would be chocked full of Clinton administration retreads and have a national security team featuring the woman who advocated bombing Iran to smithereens in the event it launched a nuclear attack on Israel, few would have believed it. But that’s what seems to be in the offing.
As for the national security team, many conservatives are elated by the prospect that Hillary Clinton — rather than Bill Richardson or John Kerry — will be heading to Foggy Bottom. During the campaign, she often played the role of hard-liner while Obama played to the netroot gallery. She took issue with then-candidate Obama’s reticence to voice tough language against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She also backed the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be a terrorist organization, while he opposed the measure. (He later reversed course in a speech before AIPAC after sewing up the nomination.) This endeared her to conservatives and infuriated the Democratic liberal base.
And, indeed, Republicans ranging from former John McCain aide Michael Goldfarb to Henry Kissinger to Arizona Senator John Kyl have encouraged the nomination. Clinton, rightly or wrongly, was seen as the best hope to steer President-elect Obama toward a more muscular foreign policy and one more inclined to support Israel’s security concerns.