Michael Gerson is impressed with Obama’s centrist appointments, seeing in them signs of true statesmanship. He then says that they also reveal some things about the current president:
Obama’s appointments reveal something important about current Bush policies. Though Obama’s campaign savaged the administration as incompetent and radical, Obama’s personnel decisions have effectively ratified Bush’s defense and economic approaches during the past few years. At the Pentagon, Obama rehired the architects of President Bush’s current military strategy — Gates, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Raymond Odierno. At the Treasury Department, Obama has hired one of the main architects of Bush’s current economic approach.
This continuity does not make Obama an ideological traitor. It indicates that Bush has been pursuing centrist, bipartisan policies — without getting much bipartisan support. The transition between Bush and Obama is smoother than some expected, not merely because Obama has moderate instincts but because Bush does as well. Particularly on the economy, Bush has never been a libertarian; he has always matched a commitment to free markets with a willingness to intervene when markets stumble.
The candidate of “change” is discovering what many presidents before him have found: On numerous issues, the range of responsible policy options is narrow. And the closer you come to the Oval Office, the wiser your predecessors appear.