I'm increasingly pleased with president-elect Obama's choices for cabinet posts and other key positions in his administration.
In the first place, he's assembling a team of very smart, skilled, knowlegable and capable people who will be walking into their jobs knowing what they are doing and with the right contacts to get things done. Compare that, for example, the Bush's selection of a FEMA director whose prior experience had been running horse races, and the change in quality leaps out at you.
He also appears to be selecting people who won't be yes men (or women), but people who will genuinely offer him varied viewpoints. He's made it clear that he will have the final say, but the fact that he's willing to listen to alternative views is refreshing. His selection of Republican appointee and incumbent Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is a good example. Gates wants a slower drawdown of forces in Iraq than Obama does. My guess is the two men will reach a compromise that protects U.S. forces while getting them out of that quagmire as quickly as possible.
It shows Obama is more concerned with ideas than ideology.
His selections also are demonstrating a centrist position politically, which I think most Americans want.
At the time he'd wrapped up the primaries, Sen. John McCain had the centrist position in his pocket, then squandered it trying to appeal to his party's right wing, and compounded that error by his selection of Palin as his running mate. That gave Obama the opening to assume the role of centrist candidate, which was where the crucial swing votes were in the election.
But that does not appear to have been merely a position of convenience for Obama. He seems serious about taking a middle-of-the-road approach where a government that works is more important than a government of ideology. Once again, after the last eight years, that alone is a refreshing change.
No president will ever be perfect, or have the nation's full support on any issue. But Obama seems genuinely concerned about the "average" American, and the people he is selecting to help form his policies and carry them out are shaping up to be an outstanding team.