The Reality of A "Team of Rivals"
Election fever has dissipated for most Americans since President-Elect Obama’s November 4th victory. The word “change,” which characterized Obama’s candidacy, no longer dominates the language of news anchors, correspondents, and pundits. As Obama makes his Cabinet selections, however, a new idea is being embraced: the “team of rivals” paradigm. The “team of rivals” refers to the cabinet that Abraham Lincoln appointed at the commencement of his presidency and was popularized by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. As a recent CNN article suggests, however, Lincoln’s team of rivals, while admirable in theory, was not necessarily effectual. Ready to glom on to popular phraseology, however, the news media have de-historicized the “team of rivals” concept by praising Obama for taking cues from the Lincoln presidency without discussing the realities of its failures. The concept therefore has become reified as it has been presented in the media, and has begun to lose its historical meaning.
A friend and I were lamenting over how boring it was going to get for the next 4 years now that Bush isn’t around to give us something to make fun of and get angry about. However, I think Obama will eventually provide us with some fodder for complaint, but the “team of rivals” won’t be the culprit.
The “team of rivals” was certainly a metaphor for the new cabinet, but if you compare the Obama team to the Lincoln team, the level of animosity doesn’t compare.