November 5, 2008

SMOKE SIGNALS:

Obama to Assemble Transition Team (Shailagh Murray, 11/04/08, Washington Post)

He is expected to name a White House chief of staff in the next day or two, and the clear front-runner is Rep. Rahm Emanuel, his longtime friend and ally from Chicago. [...]

[O]bama's effort to create a smooth transition that puts his stamp on government will face major tests almost immediately. Congress will convene for a lame-duck session on Nov. 17, and the junior senator from Illinois will have to decide whether to become immersed in its proceedings or keep his distance, as some allies are advising.

The White House will hold an economic summit on Nov. 15 that 20 world leaders will attend; Obama, who called for such a meeting in September, has been invited to participate. His advisers are also debating whether to ask Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to stay on, to allow planning for a withdrawal from Iraq to begin as soon as possible. A U.N. conference on global warming will be held in Poland in December, an ideal stage for Obama, or a high-profile surrogate such as former vice president Al Gore, to declare that the era of Bush energy policies are over.

Obama remains largely a stranger to the vast federal bureaucracy and will be besieged by Washington insiders he barely knows -- and whose loyalties are untested -- seeking positions of influence.

"He was extremely good at running for office, but there's no way to predict what comes next," said Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar with the Brookings Institution. "There's no school for presidents. A lot of this is on-the-job training, and we take a lot on faith."


Giving Rahm Emmanuel the most important job in the Administration--potentially more important than his own--would be a good signal to Republicans. Mr. Emmanuel, after all, is a Clintonite and was responsible for the House strategy of recruiting rightwing whackos, like Heath Shuler, to compete against the GOP on its own turf. But given a president with no executive experience it seems a strong exec would be a better call for chief, though Mr. Obama may be afraid of having a strong figure there.

Significantly, W not only had a strong chief but two former chiefs in the top spots of his administration and then a raft of governors. There's talk of John Kerry for State and if that's the direction Mr. Obama is headed, mainly legislators in cabinet spots, he's making a huge mistake. How about asking these business guys who backed him to come be $1 a year men--a good old Democrat tradition?

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2008 12:40 AM
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