Superstition almost forbids me to comment on President-elect Obama's appointments thus far. The news has been so shockingly welcome that I'm almost afraid to remark on it for fear of breaking the spell.
Such reticence has not afflicted everyone on the right, though. Here's Max Boot, conservative editorialist, author, and military historian: "I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain..." Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, declared that the Obama administration was "off to a good start." And New York Times columnist David Brooks has acknowledged that he is "tremendously impressed."
If I were a left-winger, I'd be tearing out my hair about now.
The economic team of Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner, and Christina Romer does not exactly send a "to the ramparts" message. Summers, treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, is known for his belief in free financial markets, free trade, and fiscal discipline. He got into terrific trouble as president of Harvard for implying that, on average, men are more mathematically talented than women (which is true but that is irrelevant in the Ivy League). They made him grovel for that one, and to his shame, he did. The whole scene at Harvard, I gather from Stephan Thernstrom, who was there, was like something out of China's Cultural Revolution where the mob makes the professor confess error and beg for punishment. Still, if you want a centrist, Summers is your man.
Geithner is a Summers protege. As president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank he has been knee-deep in bailouts over the past three months. But that datum doesn't distinguish him from the Bush administration or anyone else in the mainstream of America's economic elite.
Romer recently penned an article making the case that tax cuts can increase economic activity. Hmmm.
If the economic team is centrist, the foreign policy team (and I pinch myself as I say this) leans a little to the right. Did you notice that in introducing his choices, the President-elect used the term "defeat our enemies"?