A great comment on Larison's blog:
I think it's worth mentioning that a large part of the election campaign was fought over just this issue. Obama presented himself as a genuinely pragmatic politician who was not primarly concerned with ideology, but with what would work, and that he could appeal across ideological divides to come to agreements on what worked that would be good for the country.
McCain and many conservatives were accusing Obama of presenting a false facade, that he was actually a socialist, a communist, a terrorist, a leftist ideologue who was hiding his real ideological extremism behind this fake veneer of pragmatism, and that once elected he would show his true colors, and try to turn the country into a Muslim, socialist paradise for Bill Ayers and al Qaeda terrorists.
The electorate rejected McCain’s version of Obama, and accepted Obama’s own self-description. Those who are surprised by Obama’s appointments thus far are those who for some reason mistakenly believed in McCain’s criticism.
One of the best examples of Obama’s pragmatism is his appointment of Chu as energy secretary. Imagine that, and actual expert scientist in charge of energy research and development! Rather than a politician or military official or a “green” progressive environmentalist, Obama picked a guy who actually knows science. Is this being “centrist”, or is it being pragmatic in the real sense of the word.
I think the truth that is coming out, and which you have avoided seeing as best you can, is that Obama really is, by nature, a pragmatist, in the most basic sense of the word, and that ideology is not what makes him tick. That doesn’t mean he has no ideological biases, but that the forms and changes his ideology based on actual observation, analysis, and testing of those ideas, in what is loosely a scientific matter, and not even a purely political form of pragmatism.