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No Decisions: Obama Votes ‘Present’ on Cabinet Picks

Is he exercising caution or once again avoiding difficult choices?

by
Jennifer Rubin

Bio

November 14, 2008 - 12:00 am
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The game of “fantasy cabinet” has begun as pundits and voters mull over the choices for key posts in the new Obama administration. But those are the only cabinet picks right now. Barack Obama seems content to take weeks to name his Treasury secretary and critical national security spots.

For now the media remains smitten and there is little criticism of his deliberative process. But events have a way of taking hold. The stock market has been on the skids. Some attribute this to gnawing uncertainty about the Obama presidency and questions about who will fill the Treasury spot. Larry Kudlow writes:

Some folks think the stock market is stalking Obama, whose defining moment may be a GM bailout. Plus, investors are waiting for a new Treasury appointee who will shed light on Obama’s tax and trade threats for 2009 as well as his UAW rescue mission that is so strongly favored by Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Policies protecting ailing industries would certainly set a France-like tone for the new administration.

Meanwhile, the wrangling between centrists and leftists over national security has emerged. The former seem content to allow Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain on, a prospect which horrifies the far left who helped deliver the Democratic nomination to Obama.

But the cautious decision-making style and refusal to leap into the fray should come as no surprise. After all, candidate Obama during the financial meltdown viewed events from afar and refused to weigh in for weeks on the propriety of the AIG bailout. (No word yet on whether he likes the re-bailout better than the original.) And, of course, Obama took flak in the campaign for voting “present” over a hundred times in the Illinois State Senate.

To some degree, not making decisions has been the key to Obama’s electoral success. The less said, the easier to maintain diverse constituent groups within the fold and the harder for his opponents to paint him as radical or “risky.”

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