Giving Credit Where It’s Due — So Far

The national security and foreign policy team President-elect Barack Obama unveiled today is accomplished, capable, bipartisan, diverse, honored and aware of the dire circumstances and staggering challenges they inherit as they step into their new jobs.

Obama's choice of them was made in confidence — that he can lead a team of rivals to use dissent and debate to govern well. His choices were also made in humility, accepting that there are strengths he lacks that he must have to succeed. Obama chose experience because he doesn't have much, and the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India, last week underscore why an untested leader needs seasoned minds around him when making critical decisions about security.

Politically, he has helped himself by bringing his enemy closer — Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill — and by hiring hawks respected on the right in Jim Jones and Robert Gates. Of course, if all goes well, team members remain invested, and when things go south they rush for the door. Failure to turn a recession around, improve the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts or neutralize the terrorist threat will lead rivals to freelance — exonerating themselves from blame and protecting their own political futures.

We will all hope for the best, and for this beginning give Obama credit for doing what he said he would do.


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