November 13, 2008
Thursday's Transition News
Application interrogation? NYT details the new administration's uber-detailed job form. It's out! Get your Plum Book of vacated federal positions today. Obama could cut the White House political affairs office, Politico reports. Techies love the new Washington--and might migrate east. India wonders why, oh why Obama hasn't called. John Bolton says Obama has already blundered on missile defense. The top ten ways Obama can use Web video in the White House. Slate debates the merits of a super transparent administration. And for fun.... Obama the Opera! --Seyward Darby
November 12, 2008
Si Se Puede?
WASHINGTON -- Because of the debate over immigration reform, the word "Hispanic" became a stigma in the eyes of many Americans over the last two years. How ironic then that 10 million Hispanic voters played such a crucial role in last week's presidential election. They voted for Barack Obama by a 2-1 margin, giving him a decisive push in four states--Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico--that he wrested back from the GOP. Hispanics have tended to side with the Democrats, but never by this large of a margin.
A Better Way To Bail Out Detroit?
I'm still skeptical about this push by both Barack Obama and Congress to fork over billions of dollars to ailing carmakers in Detroit (though, to be sure, James Surowiecki makes a compelling argument that letting GM go bankrupt right now could deal a devastating blow to consumer confidence and, with it, the broader economy). But Tom Evslin outlines an alternative bailout idea for the auto industry that might be worth considering: The US government should order a complete replacement for its vehicle fleet to be delivered over the next four years.
I'm sifting through the impeccably organized 55-chapter "Change for America" volume released today by the Center for American Progress. A call for swift and sound environmental action, from infrastructure development to the creation of a White House level "National Energy Council" wafts through several of the sections on general domestic, economic and national security policy. CAP also includes microtargeted chapters on the Departments of Transportation, Energy, Environmental Protection, Agriculture and the Interior (yes, that one).
I see merits on both sides of the debate over whether Senate Democrats should let Joe Lieberman keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. But I think the heatedness (is that a word?) of the debate is absurd. On one side, you have the unnamed Lieberman aide who blusters "that political retribution should not go ahead of homeland security," as if the opening al Qaeda has been waiting for is Lieberman getting moved to the Small Business Committee.
The Return Of John Edwards
In case you missed it, John Edwards crawled out of his hole last night. The Democrat's speech covered politics, poverty and his hopes for America and the world and he later discussed President-elect Obama and other topics from the audience. But the question-and-answer period featured only written queries that had been submitted before his speech. The affair he acknowledged with filmmaker Rielle Hunter wasn't mentioned. After his public statements in August, Edwards said he did not plan to speak about the affair again...
I'm a huge Tom Daschle fan. I thought he was the only person other than Rahm who should have been in the conversation for chief of staff. And I think he'd make a great White House healthcare czar, if that's the direction Team Obama is headed. Still, this nugget from today's New York Times piece about the $700 billion bailout illustrates how complicated it can be to bring a former lawmaker into your administration, particularly once you've committed to ambitious ethical guidelines: The first wave of lobbying came in early October when Mr.
She Continues To Rise
Rumor has it that Patti Solis Doyle will take the job of Cabinet secretary. But no, she won't be running State, or any other department. The little-known administrative role, created under Eisenhower, involves coordinating efforts between the White House and Cabinet. It usually goes to insider loyalists, like Christine Varney, who, before taking the job in 1993, served as counsel to the Clinton campaign and the DNC. (Varney is now on Obama's transition team.) I wonder how Clintonites will respond to Obama's continuing elevation of a woman that they love to hate? --Seyward Darby
A Slow Striptease On The Environment
Yesterday’s transition briefing at the office of the president-elect in Washington offered a lot of teases for the environmental community. Co-chair John Podesta, speaking on behalf of the new brass, fielded specific questions on the auto industry bailout and California's EPA waiver—some proof that energy action is firmly implanted in the political debate. Here, we’ve discussed the mixed merits of the former and the necessity of the latter, but it’s worth reproducing the new administration’s funny little dance on both.
As reported in this week's edition, Max Baucus and his staff at the Senate Finance Committee have been working on health care reform since the beginning of summer. Today, he will publish a preliminary outline of what he has in mind. Afterwards, he plans to resume discussions with Senator Ted Kennedy and his staff at the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. They still hope to produce one joint bill, although--as Ezra Klein noted--tensions over committee turf may get in the way. What will Baucus propose?