November 12, 2008
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?
November 11, 2008
In a major setback for gay marriage advocates, California voters passed Proposition 8 last Tuesday. And since then, TNR's managing editor Richard Just and TNR's legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen have been debating the appropriate lessons to draw from the defeat. Read Rosen's opening argument here and Just's first reply here. Dear Richard, Many thanks for your thoughtful response. But just to be clear: I’m not arguing that judges should crudely follow the polls, or that courts are supposed to do nothing more than predict and ratify public opinion.
Where Should The Press Camp Out?
At a packed press briefing in Washington today, transition co-chair John Podesta announced ethics rules for the next nine weeks and took questions on topics ranging from a reported spat with the White House to how Obama's team will participate--behind the scenes, because "we have one president at a time"--at the Bush administration's upcoming financial summit. You can read about it here. What seemed to weigh on the minds of reporters, though, many of whom were still exhausted from the campaign trail, was the perennial anxiety about access.
A Mormon-evangelical Rapprochement?
Marc Ambinder notices something that I'd been meaning to point out myself: By bankrolling opposition to same-sex marriage in California, the LDS church has earned some serious cred in social conservative circles.And the Prop 8 protesters -- those who are now protesting the church -- are only fueling the impression that when it comes to standing up for "traditional marriage," the Mormon Church is where it's at.This development has fascinating implications for 2012. When you think about Mitt Romney's problems in '08, it seemed as if the biggest one was his inability to convert the enthusiasm so
November 10, 2008
Jihadists for Obama
The election of Barack Obama has filled the cable networks with images of Kenyans dancing in the street and Australians breaking down into tears of joy. But there's one group of foreigners whose reactions haven't received much attention: the ones that seek our destruction.It's hard to figure out exactly what al Qaeda believes about the president elect--it's not easy to score terrorist-on-the-street interviews to figure out what the average suicide bomber thinks.
More than a little bit tiresome. A party for the dictator, the liberation theologian, a Maoist member of the Politburo of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal, an Egyptian heavy thinker and on and on, some wearing Birkenstocks, others guayaberas, whatever that is. This is the World Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity. No less. Dateline: Caracas, Venezuela. Read all about it in the Tuesday New York Times. By the way, President Chavez was seen smoking cigarettes.
The Washington Post has a rather stunning piece on its front page today. It turns out that, amid all the frenzied bailout back-and-forth in September, the Treasury Department unilaterally lifted a ban on a rather egregious tax shelter that conservatives have been lobbying to eliminate for 20 years. The move will cost taxpayers over $100 billion per year, and very few people think Treasury had the legal authority to execute it.
For fans of formality, you can read statements about the White House meeting from both the Bush and Obama camps here via Politico. --Seyward Darby