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More on the Obama National-Security Team

To build on my colleague Matt DeLong’s post, the big question I had when Obama was getting ready to announce his national security team was whether he would present the contours of a first-term agenda for them to debate and enact, as he did with his economic team. If he didn’t, the team might look like the mid-2000s New York Yankees: a collection of All-Stars with little mutual warmth and dubious internal cohesion.

Instead, Obama presented a clear picture of what he intends to do. Withdraw from Iraq along his 16-month timetable, “but I will listen to the recommendations of [military] commanders.” Renew efforts against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Confront the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Reduce the dependency on foreign oil. And, as my last post indicated, re-calibrate the balance between civilian and military efforts in U.S. national security to use what Vice President-elect Biden called the “totality” of options.

What’s more, Obama gave an indication of his governing style — or, at least, an indication of what to look for to judge the success of his governing style. “I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong decisions. That’s how the how best decisions are made,” he said at his press conference. “But understand that I will be setting policy, [and will be] responsible for presenting the vision [that]… this team will implement.” It was significant in that regard that, for instance, right as he announced his choice to retain Bob Gates at the Pentagon, Obama said Gates “knows I will be giving him and the military a new mission as soon as I take office: responsibly ending war in Iraq.” In other words, Obama will expect debate to proceed within the parameters of his agenda. And that agenda is a progressive one.

I wonder: is Obama the chief executive that President George Bush always thought of himself as? Discuss.

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