Sunday, December 07, 2008

Obama has ninja skills

And they are impressive:
But in his (reported) choice of Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, there is also an extremely refined aspect of sticking in the shiv.

Whenever he talks about this selection, Obama (plus his lieutenants) can describe it completely, sufficiently, and strictly in the most bipartisan high-road terms. They have selected a wounded combat veteran; a proven military leader and manager; a model of personal dignity and nonpartisan probity: an unimpeachable choice. Symbolic elements? If people want them, they can work with Shinseki's status as (to my recollection at the moment) the first Asian-American in a military-related cabinet position, not to mention a Japanese-American honored for lifelong military service on Pearl Harbor Day.

As for the other symbolic element -- that Obama is elevating the man who was right, when Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, et al were so catastrophically wrong -- that is something that neither Obama nor anyone around him need say out loud, ever. The nomination is like a hyper-precision missile, or what is known in politics as a "dog whistle." The people for whom this is a complete slap in the face don't need to be told that. They know -- and know that others know it too. So do the people for whom it is vindication. And all without Obama descending for one second from his bring-us-together higher plane.

The artistry here is remarkable. Along with the inspired nature of this choice.
And more on the high quality of General Eric Shinseki. Link via Mark Adams of American Street.

5 comments:

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

He's a good pick.

ellroon said...

Any way you slice it.

cosmic tumbler said...

Well said!

ellroon said...

Shinseki is an inspired choice. I think we're seeing a powerhouse of an administration being put together.

Steve Bates said...

Shinseki is a most impressive officer. Bush and Rumsfeld were not merely fools but damned fools to push him out.

I suppose you've seen the video of Tom Brokaw asking Obama about Shinseki's forced retirement over his testimony to Congress. Obama said exactly the right thing about Shinseki in reply: "He was right." Indeed he was. I shall be so glad to enter an era in which a public official's being right actually counts for something once again.