With each new appointment Barack Obama makes, I see less and less reason to think he is going to be the radical leader his past and recent statements had led me to fear.

Like I told Kevin and the Chief the other night, and commented here some months ago, I would LOVE to be proven wrong on my suggestions Obama would try to squelch free speech, transform our capitalist economy into a subsection of the Department of the Treasury, open a system of gulags, confiscate our retirement accounts and unleash an army of brownshirts to ferret out thought crimes.

In fact, if instead of all the crazy progressive talk during the campaign Obama had simply proclaimed that his administration would be basically a third term of the Clinton presidency but with Hillary in a subservient position to himself, as looks to be taking shape, I’d have been down with that. There is some upside to letting the Democrats take the reins of power for a spell.

Instead of political invective we’d have seen a lot more shamanic wisdom on this blog – that I can assure you.

UPDATE: And if you want a little more feel-good, warm and fuzzy, things are really not so bad, savor this.

UPDATE II: The second George Herbert Walker Bush term.

UPDATE III: Obama to delay repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. A little outside the topic of this post because this was not an issue keeping me awake at nights, frankly. But it goes to show 1) Obama appears to be tending toward the “center” if not center-right, and 2) The enhanced-gay-rights movement seems on a success trajectory roughly mirroring that of the Republican Party. Maybe we should all compare notes while regrouping?

UPDATE IV: And holy smokes, if somehow Barack Obama actually manages to make smoking ok again, it would be one of the greatest PR coups of all time. I remember a National Review article in the 1980s eulogizing the smoking culture, with the example of a European official on a TV panel discussion who, when asked a question, pulled one from his cigarette case, tapped it several times on the case, lit it up, took a long drag and exhaled slowly before answering. How much better style for gathering one’s thoughts, the NR writer observed, than the typical American politician who will blather nonsense for 30 seconds while the brain works to summon a cogent response. If President Obama can reawaken that sense of suave in the nation’s highest office, think about what it will do for public confidence.

UPDATE V: Here’s the best analysis I have seen:

I think that Obama is similar to Bill Clinton in one important respect. Clinton famously wanted to be President not because there was anything in particular he wanted to do, but because he craved the status of being President. In Clinton’s case, this seems to have been due to an insatiable need for approval and affection. Obama, likewise, wants to be President not in order to do anything, but because he believes that for Barack Obama to be President is an end in itself. In Obama’s case, this view is due not to a psychological craving, but rather to the historical importance of being the first African-American President.

If I’m right about that, it makes sense for Obama to be reasonably moderate. He makes history simply by being a President with dark skin; what he desperately wants to avoid is for his Presidency to be seen as a disaster or a fiasco.

Read it all.