God must love the Clintonites...

...he made so many of them.

From the apparent intention to drag every Clinton administration veteran back to Washington from the lobbying company, law firm, brokerage house, or outpost of the academic gulag where eight years of exile were endured, to the perplexing consideration of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as secretary of state, President Change has become President StatusQuo more swiftly than you can say, Yes we can.

The absence of a strong set of political beliefs was part of candidate Obama's appeal. It allowed every supporter to project his own ambitions for the country on the blank face of "change." But now, that same absence of political agenda is enabling the center-right coalition that has run this country for its own benefit since Reagan to seize control of the next administration. Call it Clintonism with a new face.

The incoming White House chief of staff is Rahm Emmanuel, who was a staff assistant to President Clinton (and, not incidentally, as head of the last several Democratic House election efforts, the hatchet man who systematically undermined the candidacies of progressives in the Democratic primaries). Former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta is in overall charge of the transition team. Overseeing the selection of the foreign policy corps is former Clinton secretary of state Warren Christopher. And staffing defense is up to former senator Sam Nunn, not a Clinton intimate, exactly, but as head of the Senate armed services committee in the Clinton years intimately involved in crafting the militarized foreign policy of that era. The first important picks after Biden and Emmanuel: Clinton's impeachment attorney Gregory Craig as White House counsel and Ronald Klain, a former lobbyist who was a lawyer on Al Gore's vice presidential staff, as the new veep's legal adviser.

Bowles, Ian; Mathews Burwell, Sylvia; Campbell, Kurt; Cunningham, Nelson; Danzig, Richard; Downey, Mortimer; Garvey, Jane; Gensler, Gary; Hochberg, Fred; Johnson, James; Lake, Anthony; McGinty, Kathleen; Ness, Susan; Rice, Susan; Sperling, Gene; Steinberg, James; Talbot, Strobe; Thompson, Mozelle; Witt, James Lee; Zoellick, Robert...the nice thing about this return of the politically undead is that lobbyists won't be compelled to waste a lot of energy updating their speed dialers. If he didn't throw out his old business cards, Lawrence Summers is really set; treasury under secretary Clinton, and partly responsible for our current economic mess, he is likely to get the same job from Obama.

Then there are short-list names one prays are no more than the latest examples of the Obama crew's mastery of political symbolism. John Kerry or Hillary Clinton at the state department (and what happened to Bill Richardson, anyway?). Al Gore as secretary of interior. Bill freaking Clinton at the UN. Excuse me, but wasn't getting rid of the Clintons the whole point of the rush to endorse Obama on SuperTuesday?

It's not that many of these people are not admirable in their own right, it's just that in their massed numbers, and in conjunction with other appointment rumors -- retaining defense secretary Robert "The Surge Is Working" Gates; bringing back former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker as treasury secretary; putting GOP stalwarts Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar in charge, respectively, of defense and state (no, really, what did happen to Bill Richardson?); sending Jane Harman, the scary Democratic representative from Venice CA, to homeland security; giving education to Colin "Mea Culpa" Powell, as if he doesn't have enough to apologize for already -- they make it seem increasingly likely that the only change we're going to see is the kind that is confusingly difficult to distinguish from la même chose.

We thought we were throwing the bums out. Silly us.

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