Like Phil Jackson with Shaq and Kobe, or Doc Rivers with Garnett, Pierce and Allen, President-elect Obama is stepping onto the world court leading a team to be reckoned with. Clinton, Rice, Napolitano, Holder, Daschle, Gates, Geithner, Jones, Orszag, Biden and Emmanuel. Many have questioned whether he will be able to marshal this “team of rivals.” My answer is ‘Of Course.’ As a matter of fact, this is a team to be rivaled with.
On every front so far in his burgeoning administration, President-elect Obama has shown that he is not afraid: not afraid of intelligent subordinates or opposing opinions, not afraid to reach across the aisle, not afraid to take the necessary steps despite his critics, not afraid to be unpopular in order to do the right thing, not afraid to ask questions, not afraid to seek help when he needs it, not afraid to be the man in charge, not afraid to lead the country. To mix my metaphor, he is also like Kobe in his rookie season, unafraid to take the game-winning (or losing) shot.
It is refreshing, even comforting, to transition into appreciation for the leaders of our country. As President Bush pardons turkeys, President-elect Obama is passing out meals to the homeless; as Dana Perino speaks for the President about not blaming Pakistan for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, President-elect Obama is speaking to the Indian Prime Minister. And while I don’t like to dance on graves, because it really does send the wrong message, right now the differences between what we’ve had and what we’re getting is so stark that the comparisons cannot be avoided.
And like the new Lakers, the purple and gold warriors in 2008-2009 who’ve flanked the reigning MVP Kobe Bryant with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Sasha Vujavic, Jordan Farmar, and Vladimir Radmonavich and established a 14-win, 2-loss record so far, President Obama has surrounded himself with heavyweights: the Senator from New York; the former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; the former Senate Majority Leader; the Governor of Arizona; the current Secretary of Defense; the former Assistant Secretary of State; the former Assistant Attorney General; and the list is destined to continue (look for the Governor of New Mexico to be drafted next, followed by Rep. Xavier Becerra for United States Trade Representative). Update: Since my original post, President-elect Obama has also tapped General Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs.
Like the hordes of us who rolled into the Staples Center all those years ago (and who are starting to roll in again, eh) or those fans entering the Fleet Center with a grin, relaxed shoulders, and anticipation of good things on the immediate horizon, I as a citizen am feeling good about where we as a country are headed. Yes, I know things are grim: one war (Afghanistan), one invasion (Iraq), two financial crises (Wall St. & Main St.), illegal detentions (Guantanamo), a defunct second political party (GOP), bitter partisanship (Rush Limbaugh), public ignorance (Sarah Palin), terrorist attacks around the world (Mumbai), home loan default, unemployment (auto industry?), homelessness, the public “mis”education system (“no child left behind”), lack of homeland security (the dismantling of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina), and a President in George Walker Bush who can’t seem to grasp the fact that his low popularity ratings are not a repudiation of the Republican Party or philosophy, but a repudiation of him personally and politically. Even with all of these serious issues, I am HOPEful. I feel good about where we are heading, because I believe in the skills, intelligence, passion, prognostication, discipline and perspective of this team, of President-elect Obama and his supporting players. I feel safer, knowing they are not waiting idly in the wings, but actively, ears to the ground, eyes to the sky, looking, listening, learning, planning.
I just can’t wait for tip-off.