Arne Duncan's Senate confirmation hearing this week was by all accounts a smashing success--if you define "success" as making no waves, upsetting no constituents, and sending no signals about the Obama Administration's intentions in the education sphere. Nor was it a tea party attended only by Senate Democrats; quondam-Secretary-of-Education Lamar Alexander told Duncan that he was Obama's "best" cabinet pick. (Take that, Hillary!) Duncan was happy to play along, with risky statements such as "never before has being smart been so cool" and "we must build upon what works and we must stop doing what doesn't work." Eventually Duncan and his boss are going to have to make decisions that will frustrate either the establishment or reform wings of the Democratic Party, but don't expect that day to come anytime soon.
"Nothing but Praise for Duncan in Senate Hearing," by Alyson Klein, Education Week, January 13, 2009
"Duncan: Smart is Cooler than Ever," by Sam Dillon, The Caucus (The New York Times Political Blog), January 13, 2009