I have largely shunned writing about any given story-of-the-moment pertaining to President-elect Obama. Frankly, he bores me. That's because the status quo generally bores me, and nothing is more tedious than somebody who pretends an interest in changing the status quo, does not even try that hard to fake his lack of interest in doing that, and then sticks with the status quo.
I suspected then-Senator Obama's love of the status quo, his basic conservatism, throughout the election season, probably because I did more than listen to him chant the mantra of "change" over and over. I looked at the conservative church to which he belonged for 20 years; I read his two autobiographies; I looked at how rarely he ever stuck his neck out to change anything even when he did hold elected office; I paid attention to his 2004 speech on behalf of John Kerry when he claimed, "... there is not a liberal America and a conservative America", an irresponsibly naive or totally spurious claim. Recently I thought President-elect Obama had definitively manifested his commitment to the status quo when he chose Bob Gates, the sitting Secretary of Defense, to continue in that post. After all, Gates currently serves as Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush, whose administration and policies many people assumed they were rejecting when they refused to vote for Jon McCain and insisted on voting for Barack Obama.
But today's announcement of Ron Lahood, the retiring Illinois Republican House member who, says the New York Times, "rose to prominence when he presided over the House impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton", as the second Republican in Obama's cabinet really takes the cake. Obama has picked Lahood to serve as Transportation Secretary - Transportation Secretary in an administration that is planning to push a huge spending package disseminating bucks for works on the transport system and one that proclaims it is interested in "green" issues. This is like putting Dick Cheney in charge of energy policy and thinking that we were going to end up with a crackdown on various corrupt practices in energy trading and the oil industry or that suddenly environmental standards regarding the production of "green" cars would be advanced.
The Times also reports that "Mr. LaHood...is close to Mr. Obama and Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff." In other words, Lahood, another Illinois crony. Well, cronyism also carries on the Bush legacy: remember W.'s efforts to appoint Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court? Or his 2006 recess appointments of Ellen R. Sauerbrey and J. Dorrance Smith?
See, I wanted an actual Democrat to be the Democratic Party's nominee. That's why I thought actual Democrats - the delegates elected in primaries and supposedly sent to Denver to pick the nominee using a fair and open procedure specified in the Call to the Convention - would be the most sensible people to choose between the two candidates who had qualified to have their names placed in nomination. Maybe, left to their own devices those delegates would have voted for the candidate who I perceived as heading straight into making the Democratic Party largely indistinguishable from the Republican one. Maybe they would have nominated the candidate who advocated truly universal healthcare, investment in green technologies, and getting government out from under the thumb of big business - all of which would be departures from the status quo.
We will never know. But we know an awful lot already about the candidate who won the general election - Barack Hussein Obama, perpetrator of the status quo.