CNN is reporting that retired General Jim Jones is the leading candidate to become Obama's national security advisor. There is good reason to believe this reporting, given that Jones was one of sixteen names on the "semi-short list" for Obama's Vice-President. While Jones was taken out of contention when it was revealed he supported John McCain, in the third debate Obama still mentioned him as an advisor he would "surround" himself with when elected President. So yeah, this report is probably accurate.
Although not as bad as keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense (I'm not sure any cabinet appointment could be that bad), it would still be a very disappointing selection. Jones, as already noted, supported McCain, and was also offered the deputy Secretary of State job in the Bush administration. He turned the offer down, but turning down an offer like that from the Bush administration in mid-2007 isn't exactly a progressive master stroke. Not many people are keen to jump on board an administration with a sub-30% approval rating and only twenty months left in office.
Let's say that all of the leading contenders for Obama's national security team end up in his administration. This would give him a core foreign policy team of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Jim Jones, and Robert Gates. That is, overall, a center-right foreign policy team lacking any clear progressives (at least, foreign policy and national security progressives). All of them, with the possible exception of Jones, supported the Iraq war from the outset. At least two of them, Gates and Napolitano, opposed withdrawing troops as recently as 2007 (although the new agreement with Iraq has rendered that debate moot). Also, two members of this group, Gates and Jones, supported McCain. This team would oversee roughly 60% of discretionary federal budget spending, military operations, and all diplomatic relations.
I know everyone is obsessed with the "team of rivals" idea right now, but I feel incredibly frustrated. Even after two landslide elections in a row, are our only governing options as a nation either all right-wing Republicans, or a centrist mixture of Democrats and Republicans? Isn't there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration? Also, why isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left? It seems to me as though there is a team of rivals, except for the left, which is left off the team entirely.
It is just so very frustrating. It seems like the only place progressives are making any gains is in the House. We are being entirely left out of Obama's major appointments so far. I guess everyone gets to play in Obama's administration, except progressives. Adam B and I talked about this subject for an hour today on Radio Times, and you can listen to it here.