January 06, 2009
I was about to decry the news of Obama's reported desire to make Sanjay Gupta his Surgeon General as the triumph of style over substance, but then I read further into Howie Kurtz's piece and saw: The Michigan-born son of Indian and Pakistani parents, Gupta has always been drawn to health policy. He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for Hillary Clinton. His appointment would give the administration a prominent official of Southwest Asian descent and a skilled television spokesman. I'm less interested in his ethnicity (see why below).
How Panetta Can Win Over Langley
Laura Rozen, writing over on her new blog at Foreign Policy, has this withering assessment of Leon Panetta from a "former senior CIA manager": "The message is, 'I don't want to hear anything out of the CIA. Make it go away. No scandals. Keep it quiet,'" the former officer told me. "They put over there a guy who is a political loyalist, who will keep everything nice and quiet, but who won't know a good piece of intelligence from a shitty piece of intelligence, and wouldn't know a good intelligence officer" from a bad one.
Why Panetta? The Gates Factor
Leon Panetta seemed to come out of nowhere as Obama's CIA pick. But as the insta-reporting notes, he was a member of the 2006 Iraq Study Group team. Another member of that panel was Defense Secretary Robert Gates--who is himself a former CIA director, remember. Bob Woodward's latest book, The War Within recounts, among other things, a long discussion between Panetta and Gates on the return flight from a fact-finding mission to Iraq.
Josh Marshall posts an interesting take from a reader who's a veteran intelligence professional: The issue is not intell guy or non-intell guy. The big issue for Blair and Panetta is strategic or tactical orientation. We are fighting two wars and the warfighter always screams they don't have enough intel or enough of anything for that matter. The dice are so loaded for support to the warfighter that critical strategic intelligence for the President and other senior leaders goes wanting due to time constraints on collection assets.
Please Update Your Obamaland Map
I see from today's WaPo that Susan Sher, the vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center, has been tapped as "associate counsel to the president, a position in which she will provide legal advice to first lady Michelle Obama." For those keeping track of the unofficial networks forming in the new administration, note that Sher also happens to be one of the closest--if not the closest--gal pal of Obama wise woman Valerie Jarrett.
January 05, 2009
The New New Deal Goes Global
Comparisons between President-elect Barack Obama and President Franklin D. Roosevelt abound. Time put Obama on its cover wielding Roosevelt's trademark hat, pince-nez, and cigarette holder. "A lot of people around Barack are reading books about FDR's first hundred days," said one Obama adviser. Most of the attention has focused on Roosevelt's domestic policy, and the possibility of a New New Deal. But Roosevelt's foreign policy--and his focus on global architecture--offers equally important lessons for Obama.
How to End the Gaza War
The only real way to end the Gaza War is not an unpoliced cease-fire. Or a cease-fire policed by Egypt and other Arab countries as proposed by Martin Indyk, who clings to his old ideas as a little girl clings to her favorite doll. Or a version of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which has been interim and useless for more than three decades.
Getting To Know Elena Kagan
NAME: Elena Kagan AGE: 48 NEW APPOINTMENT: Solicitor General OTHER TOP POSITIONS: Dean of Harvard Law School (2003-present); Associate Counsel to President Clinton (1995-96); Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1997-99) KNOWN FOR: Hiring prestigious, and sometimes controversial, faculty at Harvard, many of whom she lured from other top schools. She oversaw a $476-million capital fundraising campaign.
Robert Pritikin, the multimillionaire composer of the "Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat" jingle (doesn't that take me back) is considering a lawsuit against Tom Cruise for featuring the likeness of a famous globe that Hitler used to plan U-boat attacks in his movie Valkyrie. Pritikin bought the original globe in 2007 and had its likeness copyrighted "to keep it from being used in propaganda by sick neo-Nazi groups," in the words of the New York Post.
Obama's Harvard Law Mafia
The family grows with two new transition announcements: David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General Ogden is currently a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and serves as the Department of Justice Agency Review lead for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Ogden was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division from in 1999 and served in this capacity until 2001. He was awarded the Edmund J. Randolph Award for Outstanding Service in 2001.