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Both change and experience

12/2/2008, 9:01 a.m.
“Man, as long as Obama is the...

Both change and experience

 “Man, as long as Obama is the quarterback, I don’t worry about the rest of the team.”

The financial crisis confronting the nation has forced President-elect Barack Obama to assemble his management team quickly. His strategy is to quiet the turbulent financial markets by assuring investors that a capable group of Cabinet secretaries is coming on board. Despite the soundness of this approach, some political pundits have asserted that Obama’s choices are inconsistent with his promise of change.

It seems that some analysts have already forgotten the bruising Democratic primary. Obama offered change while Sen. Hillary Clinton essentially claimed to be the better choice because of her extensive experience. Obama won the delegate count, but the popular vote was very close: 18,107,587 for Obama, and 18,045,829 for Clinton, depending upon how disputed delegate states were counted, according to an estimate by www.realclearpolitics.com.

As the primary campaign wore on, even though many voters chose to support one of the two candidates for personal reasons, one would still have to conclude based on the popular vote that people were interested in both change and experience. Obama has deftly combined both by appointing experienced officials who have adopted his policy of change.

Some critics are concerned that a number of Obama’s appointees have in the past supported programs that are inconsistent with the policies the president-elect wants to implement. There should be little fear of that. Obama is a strong and intelligent leader who will effectively direct the affairs of state. The more important question is whether his appointees are sufficiently talented and capable of maneuvering in the corridors of power.

Obama’s job will be to direct his team and inspire the American people to accept the sacrifices necessary for success. 

A weak FBI case

What a shock it was to learn that Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner had been arrested for accepting a bribe. It was especially shocking because it came so soon after the arrest of state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson on similar charges, ultimately leading to her resignation. On top of that, anyone who knows Turner would doubt that he would take money under such circumstances for his own personal advantage.

Turner has spent his whole professional life representing the interests of the poor and powerless. He has eschewed an affluent lifestyle. In fact, he has used his own funds to operate a district office and to finance his political campaigns. According to the last campaign finance report, his campaign owed him $122,302.

It would not be necessary to bribe Turner for help to get a liquor license for the proposed Déjà Vu nightclub. Over the years, Boston’s African American community has lost a number of nightclubs that featured live jazz: the Hi-Hat, Estelle’s, Morley’s, Basin Street and Connolly’s. There was considerable support in the black community for Déjà Vu as news of the project leaked out.

Unless there is a secret trust fund somewhere, it is well known that Turner uses whatever contributions he gets for the benefit of his low income constituents. Many of the more affluent voters in his district are less likely to contribute to his campaign because their interests are not among his major concerns.

The FBI affidavit released after Turner’s Nov. 21 arrest is not persuasive of the councilor’s guilt. No language in the affidavit indicates that Turner required the FBI informant to compensate him for his political assistance. In fact, in a conversation with then-Sen. Wilkerson, the informant asked essentially whether Turner should be paid off. Wilkerson responded that “it was not necessary,” according to the affidavit.

This is beginning to look like even less than a case of entrapment. Residents should reserve judgment on Turner until he has his day in court.