David Von Drehle’s marshmallowy cover story celebrating Time Person of the Year Barack Obama was fraught with too much bias for just one post. Here’s a few additional tidbits from the second half of the story, with the emphasis on conservatives. Time thinks Obama’s cabinet picks display a deep emphasis only on what works, not with turf battles and game-playing: " If you've got really smart people who are all focused on the same mission, then usually you can get some things done." Von Drehle was typically enraptured:
Stop and look back at those last few words, because they are a telltale sign of Obama's pragmatism. A persistent question during the campaign -- it became the heart of John McCain's message in the closing weeks -- was whether Obama was some kind of radical, a terrorist-befriending socialist masquerading as Steady Freddy. As he builds his Administration, though, he is emerging as a leader who just wants to "get some things done."
So the Obama years aren’t going to be ultraliberal? Think again.
Maybe they will. Von Drehle rejoiced in the idea that Obama’s Washington will unleash "trainloads of money," which upsets conservatives, but not economists, who will now apparently agree that every dollar spent by government is a stimulus:
Unveiling these and other picks at a series of daily press conferences, Obama assured the public that he wanted to move fast, so fast that trainloads of money might be ready for him to dispatch across the country with a stroke of his pen on Inauguration Day. The idea of another wave of spending horrifies America's surviving conservatives, but most economists support it -- some with enthusiasm, some with resignation. Obama realized that the stimulus package could be a vehicle for launching his broad domestic agenda. His ambitious campaign promises — to reform health care, cut taxes for low- and moderate-income earners and steer the U.S. toward a new energy economy — had seemed doomed by the yawning budget deficit (some $200 billion a month, according to the latest projections). But call these projects "stimulus," and suddenly a ship headed for the reef of economic disaster might sail through Congress flying the flag of economic recovery.
With even Republican economists talking about hundreds of billions in new spending, the sky's the limit. A dream of health-care reformers -- electronic medical records -- is now economic stimulus because Obama will pour money into hospitals for computers and clerical workers. His tax cut is stimulus because it puts spending money in the pockets of working Americans. His pledge to repair the nation's infrastructure is a stimulus plan for construction workers, while his energy strategy is stimulus for the people who will modernize government buildings, update public schools and improve the electrical grid.
Was Team Obama a little confident of victory? According to Von Drehle, former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta was pressing the FBI to hurry up with its screening of potential Obama nominees in September:
Podesta had long been planning the return of a Democrat to the White House, and his think tank, the Center for American Progress, was already preparing detailed briefings on conditions in the various departments of government. As the financial system went into free fall in September, Podesta's team pressed the FBI to work overtime on security screenings of potential Obama nominees. Now, as he boarded a 6 a.m. flight to Chicago, Podesta carried a list of more than 100 candidates who had passed their background investigations and were ready for confirmation on Day One.
The Democrats were so obnoxious that some pondered the thought of forcing President Bush to force his nominees out and install Obama’s picks before the inauguration:
Obama had been pondering whether he should step to center stage or wait in the wings as the turbulent last months of the Bush Administration played out. His aides were all over the map. Some advised him to go quietly about his business in Chicago and insist that America has just one President at a time. For Obama to succeed, they argued, the country needed to see his Inauguration as a clean break, a new sunrise. Others floated the idea of immediately starting the First Hundred Days, perhaps asking George W. Bush to appoint Obama's choices to key offices so that they could get to work by late November.
Democratic pollster Peter Hart found Obama’s "confidence and competence" swayed over even "core" Republicans who didn’t vote for him. Didn’t vote for Obama? You’re still apparently giving him a mandate:
They told Hart they were drawn to Obama's self-assured and calming personality. They felt he was "honest," a "straight shooter" -- in other words, a person who does what he says he will do. Their confidence in Obama wasn't starry-eyed; they hadn't been swept away by his stadium speeches. They saw a man who can get some things done, at a time when so many of their leaders, from Pennsylvania Avenue to Wall Street, cannot. He made moderates feel hopeful, and even among many core Republicans who did not ultimately vote for him, Obama inspired admiration. Viewing these comments through the results of his national surveys, Hart discerned a surge of good feeling that he had not seen in a generation: "a sense of real hope," he says, "and the kind of broad bipartisan support that has not been in evidence since the 1980 Reagan election."
The Blagojevich scandal was mentioned in only the slightest way near the article’s end, but it also collapsed under the weight of the goo:
A few days after this interview, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich reminded the country that some aspects of politics will never change. Government is a human enterprise, after all, and Obama, like everyone else, is bound by its limits and subject to human frailty. Nevertheless, if he has shown anything this year, Obama has made it clear that he knows how to write new playbooks and do things in new ways. Which is a compelling quality right now. His arrival on the scene feels like a step into the next century -- his genome is global, his mind is innovative, his world is networked, and his spirit is democratic.