Obama is the candidate of change, new beginnings, new blood. Except where it matters most: foreign policy. Obama has sought advice from a council of graying experts, whose best years are behind them -- dullards like Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright. This is change we can believe in?
The Obama campaign needs an infusion of young talent and new ideas, not moldy policy proposals from folks whose pension plans have kicked in and whose idea of a rollicking Saturday night is sipping wine at the Council on Foreign Relations. At a time when Defense Secretary Robert Gates is seeking counsel from young academicians in our university's anthropology and social sciences departments, Obama is relying on old standbys whose out-of-date philosophies were shaped by the Vietnam and Cold War era.
Is he really that unconfident in his own grasp of foreign affairs that he needs heavyweights like Lee Hamilton or Sam Nunn to hold his hand? What kind of fresh, bold ideas will these graybeards really bring to his campaign? Take Albright, a Washington insider if there ever was one, a woman who once dressed down Colin Powell and said, "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" Scary stuff.
I wanna believe in Obama, I really do, but I'm dumbfounded. How is it that the same guy who fist-bumps his wife on a national stage goes and trots out over-the-hill Carter-era wonks who wouldn't know a new idea if it bit them in the ass? His presumed secretary of state, Anthony Lake, is 69, which is almost John McCain's age. Lee Hamilton is in his late 70s. As Jim Wooten writes in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Obama's a new soundbox affixed to an old agenda."
That is not to say that Obama does not need a steady hand on the tiller. The inclusion of stalwarts like Susan Rice and William Perry, I would argue, is necessary (I'd also get Samantha Power back into the fold). Moreover, his decision to leave off the list old hands with out-sized egos and skeleton-packed closets like Richard Holbrooke and Bill Richardson is also a positive sign.
That said, I'm not convinced that under Obama, U.S. foreign policy will look much different from the Carter or Clinton administrations, much less -- gasp! -- the Bush administration.