President-elect Barack Obama

Reality Has Moved Left

E.J. Dionne recalls a Kennedy story:

In his journals, no less a loyalist to John F. Kennedy than the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. expressed dismay during the 1960 transition period over Kennedy's apparent attraction to "a collection of rather respectable and conservative names for the Cabinet."

In a Dec. 1 journal entry, Schlesinger described a meeting in which he told Kennedy "that the liberals were concerned about having a spokesman in the Cabinet." Kennedy replied: "Yes, I know, the liberals want visual reassurance just like everybody else. But they shouldn't worry. What matters is the program. We are going down the line on the program."

Schlesinger concluded that Kennedy was seeking "an administration of conservative men and liberal measures," an intriguing notion to apply to Obama.

Dionne writes that reality has shifted to the left, and this of course calls for, as JFK said, "liberal measures." Again, if the president-elect achieves even half of this agenda with his, by all accounts, center-left cabinet and staff, we're looking at an historic presidency and a signficantly improved state of the union.