SCOTT SIMON, host:
Kathleen Parker is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, joins us in our studios. Kathleen, thanks so much for being with us.
Ms. KATHLEEN PARKER (Columnist, Washington Post Writers Group): Thanks for having me, Scott.
SIMON: Some publications and bloggers who supported Barack Obama when he ran for president - we should explain, you created a stir in the conservative community by also supporting Senator Obama then - have expressed some disappointment over some of the faces they see showing up in the Cabinet. Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, General Jim Jones, and now keeping President Bush's defense secretary. You wrote a column recently suggesting that's a limited view.
Ms. PARKER: Well, I think what everybody's complaining about is that this is not a change when you're keeping the same old faces around, but the point I tried to make was that Obama personifies change. He is change, and part of that change can be seen, well, in his style. You know, he is a different kind of leader, and he's shaping his administration around big ideas but also around a willingness to compromise. That is a change. That's a vast - a drastic change from the Bush administration.
But you know, Obama's style is such that that he has this kind of calming effect on everyone around him. And his temperament is not the bring-'em-on cowboy style we've been used to but rather a gathering of people around him to have a conversation. You see this in his - yeah, as he ran his campaign, he always said, look, this is not about me. It's about you. And now that he's talking about the economic stimulus package, he's saying, I can't do this alone. You have to do this. We're - he's talking about callouses on our hands, which, by the way, I'm not looking forward to but I get the gist. You know, this is something that we're all in. And he essentially is creating a conversation.
He says, this is what we're going to try. We're going to try all kinds of innovative things. If you have a good idea, I want to hear it. If this is what we think will work, this is why we think it'll work. If it doesn't, we'll try something else. So it's kind of brilliant on a couple of levels. Number one, it does engage the people to be a part of whatever transpires, but it also shifts the burden a little bit. You know, it's not completely going to be his fault. The buck stops with him, obviously, but you know, I'm not - there's no dishonor in saying, I don't have all the answers, and that is a change.
SIMON: Put yourself, though, in the mind of a Democratic liberal activist, who might have work for two years...
Ms. PARKER: That's hard.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: And - well, that's why I'm asking you to do it. An active act of imagination. And might they say, Bob Gates as defense secretary, continuing as defense secretary, is not the change I was working for?
Ms. PARKER: Well, they can say that and - but you know, Barack Obama has always said that he's going to do what works, and he's never wavered on his position with Iraq in terms of I was against it. But Gates has been a strong and reasonable force. You practically fall asleep listening to him talk. This is not - this is not Rumsfeld-Bush. So yeah, they may be disappointed, but I think, you know, they're going to have to ride with him for a while and see how it goes.
SIMON: Kathleen Parker, columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. Thanks so much for being with us.
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