November 20, 2008


The man who has spent his life "becoming" must now "be." Obama has been the sojourner, as David Brooks of the New York Times has written, passing through places and institutions, alighting but never putting down deep roots. He has always been on his way elsewhere, in a journey of discovery and self-actualization that may be unmatched in American political history. And now he is at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Obama plays on a different stage now, and it's less forgiving. After a zero-defect campaign, the transition team has already begun to make some mistakes. The choice of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff was a good one, but awkwardly handled; the news media were told he had been offered the job before he had agreed to accept it, setting both of them up for embarrassment if he refused.

And this week, there was the public rumination about Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. This may be another self-inflicted wound. Clinton is immensely talented, but it could be the wrong job for her since it has the potential to undermine Obama's own transformational role in foreign policy -- perhaps the greatest opportunity he has. Why subcontract this to Clinton and her entourage?

And yet, after the public speculation, Obama will seem to be dissing Clinton and her supporters if she doesn't get the job. Here again, one sees a once-seamless team making little mistakes.

And then there's the incredible shrinking vice president-elect, Joe Biden. Where is he these days? Do they have him in a box? He can't be happy at the idea of considering Clinton as foreign policy tsarina -- wasn't Biden's foreign policy savvy the reason he was picked?

Mr. Ignatius may specialize in foreign affairs but he can't really be this naive about domestic, can he? Joe Biden is such a disastrous choice for vp he can't be allowed to speak in public and Mr. Emanuel and Ms Clinton are the sources of the leaks about their appointments, because they serve themselves, not the UR. All this talk of a Team of Rivals ignores one flamingly obvious difference between 20-08 and 1860: the media.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2008 9:07 AM
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