November 21, 2008

The Barack-roots
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--While the nation's capital obsesses over who will be the next pick for Barack Obama's Cabinet, the president-elect's lieutenants are engaged with what may be a more important long-term issue: What will become of Obama's vast grass-roots network?Electoral campaigns, like circus tents, quickly disappear after the show is over. But Obama is our first community-organizer president, and he sees the way he got elected as being almost as crucial as the fact that he won.

To Do: Somalia
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Somalia, a genuine failed state, ranks alongside Sudan as the world’s most conspicuous candidate for American attention in the early days of Barack Obama’s administration. Last week, capping a series of territorial gains across the country, Islamist insurgents seized the port of Merka, and appeared poised for an offensive against the capital city of Mogadishu 60 miles to the north. Aspiring jihadists, averse to the risks posed in Iraq and Pakistan, are increasingly flocking to Somalia, which is 97 percent Sunni Muslim.

Forgiving And Forgetting?
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I always thought this assessment of her was too harsh, but where are the people who waved around this article a year ago? [D]uring those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda. Her rivals scoff at the idea that her background gives her any special qualifications for the presidency.

Well Done
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Let’s assume that it’s true: Hillary Clinton at State, Timothy Geithner at Treasury and  Bill Richardson at Commerce.

Getting To Know Patrick Gaspard
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NAME: Patrick Gaspard AGE: 41 NEW APPOINTMENT: White House political director (the position Rahm Emanuel initially held under Clinton) HOW HE KNOWS OBAMA: Worked as the campaign's political director from June 2008 until the election; now associate personnel director for the transition. OTHER TOP POSITIONS: Until de-registering a few weeks ago, he was lead political operative (lobbyist) at 1199, the SEIU's mid-Atlantic healthcare labor union; also national field director in 2004 for America Coming Together (ACT), a 527 get-out-the-vote group. KNOWN FOR: Organizing successful ground operations f

More White House Staff
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The transition team announced more White House staff today. Patrick Gaspard, the campaign's political director, will serve that same role in the White House's Office of Political Affairs. (It's a controversial post that some have called to eliminate.) Jackie Norris, who was the campaign's Iowa state director, will be chief of staff to Michelle Obama. Cathy Russell, a long-time friend and adviser to the Bidens whose appointment had already leaked, will be Jill Biden's chief of staff. Cynthia Hogan, a legal adviser to Joe Biden's Senate office, will be the vice-president's counsel.

Who Is Jim Jones?

With many, including us, focused on the likelihood of Barack Obama naming James Steinberg as his national security adviser, word comes today that the job may go to Marine General James L. Jones, who retired last year after serving as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and Commander of U.S. European Command. If true, like a Steinberg appointment, it would reinforce the impression that Obama is surrounding himself with powerful advisers known for their pragmatism. Jones has been less bipartisan than nonpartisan, hewing to the traditional idea of an apolitical military.

Puttin' On The Ritz, Inaugural Style
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On Thursday night, the inauguration came early to Washington's Ritz-Carlton, where perky p.r. staff welcomed guests to an expo of Obama swag. Jazz musician Bliss Ananda played 50 Cent's "In Da Club" and the Fugees' "Ready or Not"--allegedly some of Obama's favorite tunes--on his neon blue violin. Chefs served Hawaiian roast pig and towering chocolate sculptures. A boutique soap company offered bars of Amber Waves of Grain and Purple Mountains Majesty.

No Drama Obama Signs Up For A Full-time Clinton Soap Opera
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I deeply approve of Barack Obama's appointments thus far.  You already know what I think of Rahm Emanuel. I couldn't be higher on Tom Daschle being given the health portfolio which when medical care becomes a truly exercised human right its enemies won't be able to call it socialism because those enemies have already nationalized the banks, that is, as the Marxists used to say, the means of capital and production. Moreover, Eric Holder knows how law and justice enhance society and knows also their limits.  (No, I don't approve of his opinion to President Clinton on Marc Rich.

Bobos In Power (cont'd)
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One more thing about that David Brooks column that Mike Schaffer nicely deconstructs below. I don't know if Brooks's point that the Obama administration will boast unusually strong academic credentials even holds up. Here's Brooks's lede: Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D.