Monday, December 1, 2008


The speculations are over. US President-elect Barack Obama has officially nominated former First Lady, now Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Along with her, Obama also nominated Bush's Defense Secretary Robert Gates to retain his current post, retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as National Security Adviser, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security chief, Eric Holder as attorney general, and Susan Rice as UN ambassador.

For days, the pundits have been speculating whether Obama will give the State Department seat to Clinton, and whether the latter will accept it. Some are raising the concern that Clinton might overshadow Obama or that she might diverge from Obama about her views on foreign policy. Obama, however, laid to rest this fear by saying in no uncertain terms during the presentation of his national security team nominees that he will be the one to call the shots and expects his nominees to toe the line.

Obama's appointments confirmed his resolve to assemble a so-called team of rivals; a sign of his leaning toward bi-partisanship. It takes a great strength of character for a president to appoint people to key administration positions who have once been rivals or belong to different persuasions. Senator Clinton has been Obama's toughest opponent during the democratic primary elections, Robert Gates is Bush's top man in the Iraq war, and Jim Jones is known to have differed with Obama's view of ending the Iraq war.

By being able to draw toward him people who represent different views, Obama once again showed the convincing power and charisma that carried him in the elections. It must've taken really strong and persuasive arguments to convince Robert Gates, who represented and implemented Bush's policy on the Iraq war - policies that are diametrically opposed to those of Obama's - to become the president-elect's defense secretary. The same thing is true of Gen. Jim Jones who previously stated that it is not in the best interest of the US to put a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, which does not agree with Obama's resolve to bring US troops home in 16 months.

It will only be a matter of time before Obama finds out how effective is his team of rivals concept. To be sure, he will not be overshadowed by any of his nominees no matter how assertive and intelligent they may be. He seems to be a man who will listen to all arguments or points of view on a given issue, then will give his final decision on the matter. I do not see the danger of any member of his team taking an independent path and shaping his or her own agenda. The problem that could possibly come out is the falling out of disappointed alter-egos whose positions or views cannot find a place in the president-elect's decisions.

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