November 19, 2008
Admittedly, it’s difficult to fire up a crowd before a concession speech. Yet on an Arizona stage on election night, there stood Hank Williams Jr. and Big & Rich’s John Rich, alone with their guitars and trying, in vain, to rouse John McCain’s admirers shortly before McCain officially threw in the towel. In an election full of culturally symbolic moments, here was another: the sight of two country stars, from two different generations, looking testy yet powerless--visual proof that among the many losers in last week’s elections was country music itself.
Secretary of Debt
With Hillary Clinton likely to be appointed as Secretary of State in the coming days, what happens to the $22 million in debt she accrued during her run for president? One of her best options for whittling down the debt was rolling it over to her 2012 Senate reelection campaign--an option that would seem to be off the table if she accepts the cabinet post. While she could still file for debt settlement with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), that would forbid her from ever running for public office.
The Bored Identity
A few days ago, I wrote a column about identity politics and Democratic presidencies. My argument was that the focus on social issues in general and identity politics in particular derailed the first two years of the Clinton presidency, and the return of identity-politics mau-mauing represents a threat to Obama’s presidency.Ann Friedman of The American Prospect has written a response that offers a symptom of the illness I tried to diagnose. Very little of her rebuttal even attempts to engage with my argument.
Obama announced more White House appointments today, some of which come as no surprise. As leaked reports had indicated, David Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist, will be a senior adviser, and Gregory Craig will be White House counsel. Lisa Brown, former counsel to vice president Al Gore, will be staff secretary. Chris Lu, executive director of the transition, will be Cabinet secretary, a position that Patti Solis Doyle reportedly was approached about a few weeks ago. UPDATE: Why was the Solis Doyle rumor floated? Because she was Rahm Emanuel's pick. --Seyward Darby
The Obama Strategy
Ross Douthat has a smart post on the incoming president's political strategy: Here's a fearless prediction: On an awful lot of issues, the Obama foreign policy will end cutting to the right of Bill Clinton's foreign policy, which was already more center-left than left. Even with the GOP brand in the toilet, Republicans are still trusted as much or more than Dems on foreign policy, mostly for somewhat nebulous "toughness" reasons.
So much health care news, so little time to blog. But let me weigh in on the news, via, CNN, that Tom Daschle will be Secretary of Health and Human Services. He will also serve as the White House point person on health care reform. This is a perfect role for Daschle. Although he was always been interested in health care, in the last few years he's become a true wonk on the subject, publishing a book called Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.
The transition team announced today the leaders of its seven policy working groups, which will develop policy proposals for the new administration. A list of the group leaders is here. Many of them are already on the transition team and the Cabinet shortlist, including Tom Daschle for health and human services, Linda Darling-Hammond for education, and Jim Steinberg and Susan Rice for national security advisor. --Seyward Darby
Another quick thought on that WSJ article about Rahm's comments to business leaders yesterday. These portions of the Journal piece stood out for me: He was asked his views on the push by labor unions to allow workplaces to be organized with the signing of cards attesting to union support rather than a secret ballot. Mr. Emanuel declined to say whether the White House would support the legislation, but he said the unions are addressing the concerns of a middle class that has seen U.S.
Transition News 11/19
Thomas Friedman worries that the Clinton-Obama relationship could be bad for State. Politico reports that Bill Clinton might drop foreign income to help Hillary become SOS. Karen DeYoung explains what Obama's national security structure might look like. Why transition is tougher for Obama than for past presidents. Rahm asks CEOs to join in the fight for universal health care. Newsweek looks at how the world is rushing to gain from Obama's win. Is Eric Holder too close to Obama to be AG? WSJ reports that new administration will tighten some agency regulations. --Seyward Darby
There's been a lot of debate about how quickly the Obama Administration can move on its domestic policy agenda--and for how long it might have to shelve big-ticket items like fighting climate change and major health care reform. It appears we have an answer, via incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Last night, Emanuel addressed a group of business executives.