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Four years of the mushy middle?

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If there's any clear direction it's not clear so far. That said, the economic team shares the distinction of being on the wrong side of the economic crisis so unless they all have a major change of heart, expect more of the same but with more moderation. The US just voted for change and Americans want change so it's only natural that the candidate we voted for would opt for a mushy middle path. Clinton tried this path in the '90s as he tried to accomodate the right and we ended up with a worsening record of environmental protections in Detroit and changes in the law that led us to the credit crisis. It was the GOP who made these free market changes but Team Clinton went along with it and failed to push back with warnings of what could happen with an unchecked Wall Street.

Will we be seeing more of the same?

But many of Obama's other picks reflect his apparent preference for practical-minded centrists who have straddled big policy debates rather than staking out the strongest pro-reform positions. Their reputations as moderates have won Obama plaudits from even some Republicans, but the choices offer relatively few clues to his plans in certain key areas.

"He's clearly been under great pressure to satisfy any number of constituencies, and to a certain extent, these appointments are prisms through which you can see what you want," said Paul C. Light of New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and a contributor to The Washington Post. "But at some point there will be tough decisions to make, and some of these Cabinet members are going to have to choose, and we'll see how that plays out."

Peter Wehner, a former senior adviser to President Bush, warned that placing too much emphasis on pragmatism could leave the Obama team rudderless and without intellectual cohesion. "Pragmatism has its place, but there are limits, as well," said Wehner, now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. "If you aren't anchored to a political philosophy, you get blown about, and government becomes ad hoc and you make it up as you go -- and if you're not careful, you begin to go in circles."

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