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Today's roundup

Sorry - it's been rather a day here, so while I'm waiting for the call to be on the radio (we're taping it so I don't have to get up at 1:30 am to attempt to be coherent), I'll offer a summary of some of my thinking so far. (I'll also marvel at how quickly this TBB meme is expanding.)

I've had several really interesting exchanges with people - and have been very entertained by various comments suggesting I'm either a moonbat or a wingnut or both. In any case, these exchanges have helped me sharpen my point, and have deepened my belief that Take Back Barack is the right move at the right time.

First, today's Obama-pointments. Mainly centrist, with a dash of conservatism and a pinch of liberalism.

--Dem Hilda Solis for SecLabor. She's a strong pro-labor person, who is being touted as pro-union, though her remarks upon her appointment had almost nothing to say about unions. Sure, she said she would "work to strengthen" them, but the examples she gave - and her major policy accomplishment in California of increasing the minimum wage - were very much non-union in nature. (That is, while they help union workers, they advance the interests of non-union workers at the same time.) 

--GOPer Ray LaHood for SecTransportation. He's an anti-abortion guy - though that's perhaps less important in a transportation official than one in, say, public health. His record on oil and transportation are mixed. He supported the auto bailout last week, and voted to end the moratorium on offshore drilling. But he also voted to make OPEC illegal, and opposed oil and gas subsidies for exploration.

--Dem Karen Mills (a Mainer!) to head the Small Business Administration. She's been touted as "a venture-capital expert," though what her firm does is anything but clear. Also uncertain is how she'll be able to handle the SBA's chief task - loaning money to businesses, and offering loan guarantees, in this credit market. And what she'll do to help the millions of Americans who run "microbusinesses" remains to be seen. (Disclosure: I'm an NASE member.)

--Dem Ron Kirk as US trade representative. Another Clintonite and former DC lobbyist, Kirk is a Southerner (of sorts - he's from Texas) who has supported NAFTA but opposed the "Fast Track" system. How much clout he will wield appears to be in question - a previous candidate for the job declined it because he feared trade would be too low a priority for Obama. (Interestingly, Kirk was a finalist to be SecTrans, so maybe this is a second-choice situation for him, too.)

Now then, as I've had e-mail exchanges with several folks, I've come to a deeper understanding of this visceral feeling I have of worry about Obama.

Progressive ideas and ideals can't stand up for themselves. We have to stand up for them. Our ideas can prevail in rigorous policy debates, and we can't shy away from them for fear of conflict or political messiness.

Only time will tell whether Obama will do the right things, the things we voted for him to do - withdraw from Iraq, improve our education system, fix healthcare, green the economy. Many liberals and progressives are counseling us to wait and see, to give Obama a chance to make change.

That is the wrong path. We cannot sit back on whatever laurels we may have heard by electing Obama and let him do what he and his advisors want. We must remain constantly involved, a constant force to push Obama, his advisors, and Congress to do what we know needs to be done.

He might just do the right things, even if we left him alone. But we can't take that chance - especially with the advisors he has chosen. Maybe he can take the Clinton out of Hillary and the McCain out of Jim Jones. Maybe they will come around - or even already have - to share Obama's views on many topics. But I'm not willing to bet my future, my country's future on that.

We need people in office who will listen to progressive ideas, who will give them serious consideration. We have gone far too long - decades - with leaders who dismiss progressive concepts out of hand. Many of them have just been invited back into the White House. They have tons of practice putting progressivism aside. It's clear that the policies they espoused aren't working. We need to make sure they listen.

Obama called on us to stand up and take our country back. We need to do that - and we start by Taking Back Barack.

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