Tom Engelhardt’s nearly interminable list of media blogs and features about Barack Obama’s presidential transition has him urging us (TomDispatch, 12/7/08) to “think of all this as Entertainment Weekly married to People magazine for post-election political junkies”:
Obama–thank goodness–isn’t George Bush. He doesn’t arrive in office with a crew wedded to a “unitary executive theory” of the presidency, or an urge to loose the executive from the supposed “chains” of the Watergate-era Congress, or to “take off the gloves” globally. He doesn’t have strange, twisted, oppressive ideas about how the Constitution should work, nor assumedly do visions of a “commander-in-chief presidency” (or vice presidency) dance in his head like so many sugar plums.
But don’t ignore the architecture, the deep structure of the American political system. Make no mistake, Obama is moving full-speed ahead into an executive mansion rebuilt and endlessly expanded by the national security state over the last half-century-plus, and then built up in major ways by George W.’s “team.” Despite the prospect of a new dog and a mother-in-law in the White House, the president-elect and his transition team show no signs of wanting to change the basic furniture.
“With so many catastrophes impending and so many pundits and journalists merrily applauding the most efficient transition in American history,” Engelhardt can’t help but notice that “no one, it seems, is even thinking about the architecture.”