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Confusion, But Optimism, Over Obama Appointments

While the livestock industry awaits the announcements of President elect Obama’s designees to head up USDA

While the livestock industry awaits the announcements of President elect Obama’s designees to head up USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is comfort in the appointments he’s made on his economic and national security teams. Some speculated that Obama would move toward the center as most presidents do, but so far he has sprinted toward it.

People are justifiably using the word “centrist” in describing Obama’s appointments up to this point, and commentators from every corner of the political spectrum have seemingly been surprised by the nature of the appointments. Editorials in right-leaning publications like the Wall Street Journal and National Review are admitting that the economic team as a whole tends to be pretty free market and even capitalistic.

The progress in securing Iraq has dissipated as a major issue Obama's pledge to remove troops from Iraq within 16 months. Still, many were surprised to see Hillary Clinton, a supporter of the Iraq war, selected for Secretary of State; and Robert Gates, the current Secretary of Defense, being asked to stay on in that capacity.

Perhaps the surprise on both the right and left sides of the aisle is that we still don't clearly have an idea of who Barack Obama is. We really have nothing to go on but campaign speeches, and those for obvious reasons tend not to be very revealing – more reflective of opinion polls that ideology most of the time. Will he name a radical like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to head EPA, or attempt to eliminate the free market altogether in agriculture as some are pushing?

Some argue that Obama’s first and immediate priority is to act to reassure the markets and provide stability on foreign policy, and that dramatic philosophical and directional changes are just around the corner. But all we can say at this point is that he is surrounding himself with intelligent, well-respected and mainstream advisors.

Still others are advancing the idea that his blueprint of where he wants to take the country, and his confidence in his ability to lead, are so strong that these appointments are merely a politically adept way at achieving a radical agenda by appearing moderate.

It is intriguing to hear the speculation regarding these various appointments and to see the remarkably wide range of views encapsulated in those speculations. I believe it’s indicative of the fact that, even after the election, no one is quite sure how Obama intends to govern. I’m less sure regarding what this says about our election process where, after a two-year campaign, we’re still are in the dark about how our elected candidate intends to govern, or what he intends to do.

While the media and political pundits continue to speculate, I think it’s a grave mistake to believe that Obama’s appointments represent a reversal of the beliefs and direction he asserted throughout his campaigns. I believe Obama truly intends to change this nation in significant ways.

Still, he has been proving the pundits wrong for months. After all, who would have bet on election night that conservatives would be celebrating Obama’s choices for his national security and economic teams, leaving the left almost in a state of shock? Stay tuned this could be an exciting time.