Steve Hildebrand And Progressive Criticism

Steve Hildebrand, the Obama campaign’s steller field general, has a message for me and other like-minded progressives. The message is: "Hush".

In a post at the Huffington Post entitled "A Message To Obama’s Progressive Critics", Hildebrand writes:

This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren’t progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn’t the way he thinks and it’s not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn’t, suggest that our President surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges. After all, he was elected to be the President of all the people – not just those on the left.

My question is why not? Why is this not the time? It seems to me that now is exactly the time to criticize Obama on his appointments when we disagree and support him when we agree. And tomorrow is also the time, as is next month, and next year and throughout his time in office.

Then Hildebrand tells us that Obama has important work to do first:

As a liberal member of our Party, I hope and expect our new President to address those issues that will benefit the vast majority of Americans first and foremost. That’s his job. Over time, there will be many, many issues that come before him. But first let’s get our economy moving, bring our troops home safely, fix health care, end Climate Change and restore our place in the world.

I am confused. Is getting the economy moving, bringing our troops home safely, fixing health care, and ending climate change somehow inconsistent with progressive values or policies? Does Obama have to make cabinet picks that appear to tilt right to handle the tough problems? Are progressives not equipped to handle the tough problems that face America? Or is Hildebrand saying that (as most progressives are telling themselves) a right-tilting cabinet does not necessarily mean Barack Obama’s policies will be tilting right as well.

I am of the mind that if you put, for example, Bob Gates at Defense, you are likely to get what you crave – continuity. Today a Daily Kos front page post examined what that "continuity" might look like by examining an article Bob Gates just penned for Foreign Affairs magazine. It is not encouraging.

I am guessing that if progressives do not raise concerns when they disagree with President-elect Obama now and President Obama later, progressive concerns will be ignored. I am not hoping for change. I am expecting change that will bring hope. When I do not see the change I can "believe in", I will speak out. My hope is that by speaking out, we will effect the change we want. At least that is what my fifth grade civics book taught me about how democracy works.

So, while (and because) President-elect Obama has my support, he should also expect my criticism. It is my hope that his transition and his Administration will benefit from both.


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6 Responses to Steve Hildebrand And Progressive Criticism

  1. Ingrid says:

    talk about something else that will not have changed if that is the expectant tone; support me/us or else you are not..fill in the blank. For the last 8yrs that meant you are not an American, not patriotic. Pfff..

    criticism from within is exactly what this administration needs. As would any administration. Hell, that’s what improves any business and organization.

    Instead of a ‘hush’, he should’ve said, hey, I still have faith and this is why. Never EVER tell people to hush when they’ve been hushed up the yin yang by the outgoing party and their republican minions..psah!


  2. red5243 says:

    well, i don’t know if there was an actual “hush” as much as a “give us room to work”. i don’t define myself by the categories that seem so critical to many and i don’t want my president to assume a course of resolution constrained by those same parameters.

    i respect and appreciate the expressed concerns but i’ll ask that we take a cleansing breath, exhale, and then wonder…

    ..what might have the alternative held?

  3. Mash says:

    Ingrid, it looks like Hildebrand’s post has created quite a dustup 🙂

    Red, I think it is important to speak up on some of these appointments, especially before they happen. But, criticism is not hysteria. And a lot of the criticism has been useful.

    The progressive blogs did their job when they spoke out against the appointment of John Brennan. That opposition sank his appointment. I am glad that a proponent of extraordinary rendition and waterboarding did not get appointed.

    Now, there is news that Obama is considering keeping Michael Hayden at CIA. I was against the Hayden appointment (and posted on it) when Bush made it and I am against it now. Here is the Hayden record on torture and other Bush admin favorites. An Hayden appointment will be a hard pill to swallow for those of us who are a little tired of Bush’s record on torture and wiretapping.

    Now is the time to speak up on the Hayden trial balloon. It will be hard to have any impact after the appointment has been made.

  4. libhomo says:

    Steve Hildebrand reminds me of Karl Rove. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw the Washington Monument.

  5. jasper says:

    Mash, how come you are so quite while there’s a storm brewing in Chicago (Obama in the eye of it)?
    And what do you think about Steven Chu as the Energy Secretary?

  6. Mash says:

    jasper, sorry, I am working on a post now – of and on because my day job is getting in the way 🙂

    I am following the Blago comedy. This cant be good news for Obama, especially since the media is looking for juicy stories.

    And I dont have much of an opinion on Chu. The one I am worried about is that a major Dem is pushing Hayden for CIA Director. Let’s hope Obama doesnt take that advice.

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