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La Vanguardia, Spain

Obama’s Team

Translated By Stuart Taylor

17 January 2013

Edited by Natalie Clager


Spain - La Vanguardia - Original Article (Spanish)

Barack Obama appears to have decided to make an impact, at least at the beginning of his second term in office starting Monday, Jan. 21. His attitude is reflected in his choice of team, based on their close relationship and experience. Unlike Obama’s first term in office, his group of politicians does not reflect subsidies given to the most influential sectors. On the contrary, it is a group of people capable of tackling the two challenges currently facing the president: the budgetary issue and the fight against international terrorism.

A president approaches his second term hoping to leave an historical legacy, but that is not always achieved. That is why, pending the permission of the Senate, Obama has surrounded himself with heavyweight American politicians, people who carry considerable and controversial baggage.

The first is John Kerry — the Democratic presidential candidate against Bush in 2004 — nominated by the president to be Secretary of State after Obama failed in his attempt to bring UN Ambassador Susan Rice to power. If appointing Kerry was rewarding the Republicans for their reluctance to accept Rice, in exchange, the next three appointments represent his will to impose his authority.

As defense secretary, Obama appointed Republican ex-Senator Chuck Hagel, a politician who greatly irritates his own ranks for opposing the war on Iraq as well as maintaining a peacekeeping position with regard to Iran. He also supported moderating the embargo on Cuba and made ambiguous statements about the Israel lobby and Washington’s support of Netanyahu. His multilateral attitude has made him one of Obama’s most hated advisers by his fellow Republicans.

To add more fuel to the fire, Obama has appointed John Brennan, his deputy national security advisor, as the head of the CIA. The man that supervised the persecution and death of bin Laden is a Democrat whose methods awaken many prejudices amongst fellow Democrats. A supporter of the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have caused thousands of civilian deaths, he also supported Bush’s anti-terrorist policies after 9/11: hence his unpopularity.

But the appointment that has most irritated the Republican opposition is that of his chief of staff, Jack Lew, as treasury secretary. Lew has already been responsible for the Congressional Budget Office with Clinton, then in times of surplus. His nomination to head budgetary policies is quite a challenge. Considered by the Republicans as a defender of tax increases for the rich and of the maintenance of benefits to the aged and poor, Lew is experienced in matters of negotiating fiscal chaos and reducing deficits. We can therefore expect a furious war of figures between Democrats and Republicans.

This is the team with which Barack Obama is preparing his second term of office. They are politicians with long records, controversial for both sides, but they represent the president’s determination over the next four years to move forward with the First Amendment’s concept of equality in mind, to end the war on terrorism and, finally, to pressure Israel to lay the foundations of long-term peace. Ambitious and difficult challenges for a team whose first hurdle will be the vote at the Senate.



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