Inaugural events will no doubt steal the spotlight the next few days, as they should. We're swearing in our first African-American president.
It's a big deal.
But as celebrated as he will be, Barack Obama deserves no less scrutiny than any other chief executive. And some of his Cabinet picks are problematic, to put it diplomatically.
An attorney general candidate who can't define terrorism? A climate czar appointee who throws in with a major-league socialist organization? A treasury secretary candidate who owed tens of thousands in unpaid federal income taxes?
Tell us the new president won't simply get a pass on all this.
Carol Browner, whom Obama tapped to be the director of his administration's energy and climate policies, was listed as recently as last week "as one of 14 leaders of a socialist group's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which calls for 'global governance' and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change," The Washington Times reported.
In other words, tie our economy's hands while giving the smaller, outrageously polluting nations a free pass.
Other socialists evidently caught wind quickly of the hot potato they had in Browner; they took her name and bio off the Socialist International's Web site by Thursday, although a photo of her speaking at SI's summit in Greece was still available a few days ago.
Then we come to Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, who would be charged with, among other things, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service. Trouble is, he has a spotty record of paying his own taxes.
From 2001 to 2003, when he worked for the International Monetary Fund, he paid no Social Security or Medicare taxes. An Obama spokesman called that a "common mistake" at the IMF, though the IMF has since tartly said otherwise. Geithner's income tax returns for those years are a tangled mess because of an evident failure to pay self-employment taxes. Look for this issue to come up significantly when his confirmation hearing convenes Jan. 21.
But perhaps the most outrageous and potentially dangerous choice for Obama's Cabinet is Eric Holder, who is up for the attorney general's post.
Bear in mind that, now more than ever, it is the attorney general's job to prosecute terrorists and help prevent acts of terror.
Yet, the stance that Holder has taken on terrorism is, in a word, bananas.
A few years ago, after Holder left his Clinton administration post in the Justice Department to re-enter private law practice, he joined a civil suit to defend Chiquita Brands International, most famous for its global distribution of bananas from all corners of the world, including the terrorism-torn nation of Colombia.
In March 2007, Chiquita pleaded guilty to "engaging in transactions with a specially-designated global terrorist" -- specifically, funneling more than $1.7 million in protection money to terrorist groups AUC and FARC. The sentence was a $25 million fine over five years, with no jail time for top Chiquita officials -- widely considered a sweetheart deal.
Then, in the civil case, he uncorked this outrageous assertion: saying in a court memorandum aimed at dismissing complaints against the company, "There is no clearly defined rule of international law prohibiting material support of terrorism. Indeed, there is not even consensus on the definition of terrorism."
So the person whom Obama wants to head up America's legal defense against terrorism can't even tell you what terrorism is.
Not exactly change to believe in.