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Obama's change means it's not just allies getting appointments. Instead he's forging a complex alloy cabinet.

If President-elect Obama chose his cabinet Secretaries from among his closest, long-time friends and asscociates he would hit the ground running with a known, trusted team but be accused of doing business the same way D.C. has been operating, of rewarding loyalty with political favors. It's almost certain that tomorrow Obama will formally designate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) as his new Secretary of State while retaining Dr. Robert Gates atop the Defense Department, which detractors argue is a failure to engineer change in Washington. This speaks volumes about Obama's intentions.

Memo to the troops:

While there are other Pentagon appointments in the offing Obama is plainly endorsing the efficacy of Gates' approach and performance. The President-elect is sure to mandate examinations, including the procurement processes, but by retaining Gates he's giving a nod to the operational readiness and capability of the military. Obama's choice exhibits confidence in the Defense department's ability to carry out their missions - high praise for the work being done by the men and women who serve this country in uniform, while insuring a continuity that cannot pass unnoticed by those likely to provoke a military response and/or engage our armed forces.

Message to the world:

In contrast, the selection of Senator Clinton for the State Department signals Obama's philosophical preference for reliance upon the soft power of strong diplomacy. The (anticipated) Clinton nomination foreshadows his early focus will be on a makeover at State from top to bottom. Hillary and Bill Clinton already have considerable global standing and influence. This shrewd appointment nonetheless positions the Senator in a challenging management role with diplomatic responsibilities far afield from the domestic policy issues such as health care she is noted for championing.

Leaders and common people around the globe followed Obama's improbable political rise with extraordinary fervor. Selecting a rival to head his outreach effort not only signals his obvious intent to watch that department closely, this union also insures the regular, collaborative, "normalized" participation of a former President in Obama's diplomatic endeavors around the world.

Obama's challenge: re-engineering

Bringing major changes always provokes reactions from those who like the organization just fine the way it is. Try moving where the bread is in a grocery store and you'll find both staff and customers who resist. Now imagine the changes Obama envisions both within our borders and around the world: We've got people in the U.S. who think more government intervention will help immigration but less oversight is needed in the financial industry. Overseas, from drug profiteers to the Taliban bullies to pirates off the coast of Somalia, many want to exploit weakness while decrying the use of force by the United States and others fighting for fairness. Fortunately, peaceful co-existence, be it with your next-door neighbor or with a country steeped in traditions you don't understand, doesn't mean you have to kiss and like everybody.
What Obama has set out to build, both within his administration and ultimately throughout the world, is the best community possible. He seeks a composite in the mold that immigrants to North America and their descendants celebrate each November on the quintessentially U.S. holiday of sustainability: Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving ultimately commemorates the unified strength and durability built when settlers to this nation cooperated with natives to prepare for and survive the adversity of winter.U.S. Constitution Years after the event a rebellious cadre of intellectuals crafted the document that still epitomizes the best of what our government stands for, even though that government has not always acted as though our leaders embraced what the Constitution spells out.

Peaceful coexistence with the neighbors down the block and around the globe starts with accepting that all people are, in fact, created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.



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