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Obama's Picks: Know People by the Company They Keep

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Obama, under fire, rightfully so, for his cabinet and advisor picks, defended his picks on Wednesday on the grounds that the vision for change comes from him and that he needs experienced people to staff his cabinet. The vision for change, he said, "comes from me."

This is an interesting claim by a man who throughout the campaign stated that this was all about the people and not about himself. It is, however, consistent with the cult of personality that he has cultivated about himself. "I am above and more powerful than the people I am surrounding myself with. I, not they, will call the shots. I, not they, am the decider."

The flaw in this apologia by Obama is this: a central component of the expression and actions of a leader who represents "change" is precisely his choices for the team that he assembles around himself, as these are the people who will filter, frame and edit the information that they bring to him, and shape the parameters of choices that they offer him. They will advocate what they think he should do and beyond that, of course, take principle responsibility for leading the implementation of "change" in policy.

If you wanted to fix a police department that had become famous for brutality and corruption, a new police commissioner wouldn't start by handpicking as his or her leadership team a bunch of corrupt cops known for their brutality. If you're serious about implementing your vision of change, you don't, in your first and extremely important act, begin by selecting for your closest advisers and those who will lead these changes a group of people drenched from head to toe in the bankrupt policies of prior administrations.

An upright, uncorruptable police commissioner cannot realistically expect to accomplish his or her rectification campaign by relying upon a bunch of cops who have already demonstrated their penchant for corruption and brutality. You do not bring about change by relying on people who represent and have distinguished themselves as fighters for the old order.

Yet this is exactly what Obama is doing.

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He knows very well - after all, he's an extremely smart guy - that his defense of his picks of his people - who emphatically do not represent change - is disingenuous and designed to deceive people.

Know people by the company they keep. 

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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)

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Your perceptions are, as usual, astute and sharp. ... by Elizabeth Johnston on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 11:23:39 AM
Liz,This is pure delusion, to imagine that Obama w... by William Whitten on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 12:20:55 PM
Liz, I would love to be believe that Obama will li... by Mr M on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 7:33:34 PM
Liz and William: Liz is right insofar as she urges... by Dr. Dennis Loo on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 2:29:54 PM
 Dr. Loo, You are right that you can not... by William Whitten on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 3:53:11 PM
Thanks for the clarification and expansion of your... by Dr. Dennis Loo on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 9:38:28 AM
I agree with your view. I am finding it hard to ac... by Rolland Miller on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 2:34:29 PM
As a former politico, (once made my living as a ca... by Elizabeth Johnston on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 3:41:05 PM
is supplying the 'vision thing'. Here we g... by Jack Harrington on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 3:58:42 PM
Some of us were saying he's just another estab... by Bill Samuel on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 6:07:04 PM
What Obama is up against. He's in an almost da... by Sharon Roach on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 6:58:34 PM
 What Obama is up against.Or what Obama may r... by Alan Donelson on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 12:17:14 AM
What happened to "This aint about me - it'... by Mr M on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 7:24:05 PM
You all remember how Clinton went after Obama on t... by Dr. Dennis Loo on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 8:42:47 PM
... on Iraq. The man hasn't even taken office ... by Mr M on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 9:27:31 PM
President elect Barack Obama is keeping Defense Se... by Munich on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 9:46:01 PM
Thank you very much for posting this information.&... by Alan Donelson on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 12:37:09 AM
   John Brennan has removed his name (or... by larry on Friday, Nov 28, 2008 at 11:00:08 PM
Sharon, what is this "between a rock and a ha... by Sharon Roach on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 12:26:06 AM
Sharon, please forgive my interjecting -- just lik... by Alan Donelson on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 1:39:17 AM
Hey Sharon. Like you, I still believe Obama&n... by Stokey Pipes on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 1:09:51 PM
I want to begin over again by mostly uniting with ... by Dr. Dennis Loo on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 8:43:44 AM
It's interesting how often the word "hope... by Angelo on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 9:11:47 AM
Obama is listening to the people. The people who p... by Dennis Kaiser on Saturday, Nov 29, 2008 at 9:33:34 AM
 From my own journal: Obama, who sent you? Yo... by William Whitten on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 11:18:24 AM
My primary concern right now, and I think many peo... by John Bessa on Monday, Dec 1, 2008 at 9:26:00 AM