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Obama "slights" the South in picking his team

Regional rivalries may no longer count, especially in tough times like these.

It hasn't gone without notice in the South that Obama is the first president in a generation to overlook Dixie to build his White House team.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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With about a third of the US population, the American South has established itself as an economic and political juggernaut.

But it’s not gone without notice here that President-elect Obama is the first president in a generation to look beyond Dixie to build his White House brain trust.

Is the dearth of dyed-in-the-cotton Southerners from the Obama cabinet really an out-and-out snub? Or is it simply a reflection of Mr. Obama’s own social circle – his team includes seven Ivy Leaguers and four New Yorkers – and the political reality that regional rivalries no longer matter as much?

Either way, the implications could be significant for the future of the Democrats’ 50-state strategy and the stature of the South on the national stage.

“It is an interesting shift,” says Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, in an e-mail. “Republican rule has had a strong Southern accent going back to the Republican takeover [of Congress] in 1994, and the defeat of that whole regime has resulted in a major regional power shift.”

To be sure, the speed at which Obama named the cabinet – drawn primarily from New England, the Midwest, and the West – indicates to many observers a deliberate political strategy.


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