As he picks Rahm Emanuel, Eric Holder, Tom Daschle and flirts with the former First Lady, there is a predictable chorus of criticism that going back to the Clinton years is not the change Barack Obama promised in his campaign.
Some of that was heard when he chose Joe Biden as his running mate, but Obama's goal all along was to persuade voters wary of his inexperience that the best of the past would not be swept away in rhetorical enthusiasm for the new.
He is fulfilling that promise and concentrating on the real change from the Bush-Cheney years, bringing competence back to Washington, wherever he finds it--in the over-touted Lincolnesque "team of rivals" or in the best of the 1990s.
Holder, the new Attorney General who served under Janet Reno, will have the monumental job of restoring Justice to its pre-Ashcroft, pre-Gonzales stature, as he indicated in a speech last June, citing that "disrespect for the rule of law is not only wrong, it is destructive in our struggle against terrorism."
"Our government," he said, "authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants, and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution."
Obama's apparent willingness to consider keeping Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense is based on Gates' capable performance following Don Rumsfeld's ideological reign in the Pentagon, and there may well be places in the new administration for Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel and other able Republicans.
So far, Obama's choices have reflected well on his judgment about the judgment of those who will be helping him, regardless of their resumes. January 20th can't come a minute too soon.