In 1964, R&B singer Sam Cooke led the civil rights movement with his prideful anthem, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Now, 44 years later, Barack Obama has won a presidential election based upon that very same message.
As Obama’s administration begins to take shape, one question remains: just how much change? With the recent nominations for Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, former Clinton staffer Rahm Emmanuel’s position as chief of staff, and former Clinton appointee Eric Holder for the position of attorney general, Obama’s cabinet is looking less like a change we can believe in, and more like a retread to the Bill Clinton era.
Another question arises: would a blast from the past be such a bad thing? Obama may have run on a campaign of change, but that means nothing if those appointed cannot accomplish it. Rhetoric is good, but actions are better. These former staffers, though closely tied to Bill Clinton, can aid in Barack Obama’s ultimate goal to restore America’s rightful place in the world.
They’ve begun to prove that already. Emmanuel, widely known for his liberal tendencies, will offer a drastic change from the previous 8 years the Bush-Cheney presidency has offered. Also looking to bring change is Holder, who if confirmed,will be the first African-American Attorney General.
Emmanuel and Holder have drawn criticism from the right, but they do not seem to be bearing the brunt. No, that honor belongs to Obama’s former combatant, Hillary Clinton.
Criticism of Clinton has already started; Vanity Fair columnist Eric Hitchens, said in an interview with Larry King that “she’s the woman who many, many, many of us voted not to have to worry about anymore.”
Hitchens went on to criticize the past scandals of the Clinton presidency, including previous loans taken out from Marc Rich, a commodities trader convicted of tax evasion, before fleeing the country. Clinton pardoned Rich on his last day in office. However, former scandals do not necessarily pave the way for the road ahead.
During her time as a New York Senator, Clinton has voted against President Bush’s tax cuts for the upper class, worked to provide health-care to the uninsured, and aided in the humanitarian relief following 9/11. She’s worked tirelessly for women, voting pro-choice her entire career, and was the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
Some may say Obama’s cabinet closely resembles Clinton’s, but for me, that notion only makes my support for him increase. When Obama first hit the campaign trail, I was skeptical of all that he promised. He reminded me of a high school student body president promising free soda machines in the school cafeteria, and four years later you’re still waiting for those machines. The presidency seemed to be too large a task, especially following years of record lows, for such a young senator. But with these appointees, Obama’s cabinet seems less like change we can believe in, and more like change we can see. Now, we’ll all be watching.