November 20, 2008
Keep TARP Alive
If nothing else, the Treasury’s $700 billion bailout has been a boon for unintentional black comedy. Take an announcement last week by Hartford Financial Services Group that it’s buying a Florida bank for $10 million, just so it can qualify for $3.4 billion in bailout funds. That’s a good one! Or take a plan by San Jose to nab $14 billion of the bailout, even though its annual budget is just $3.3 billion. Zing!
Remember The Name "exelon"
It could be a good first test of whether the Obama administration really is all that different. From a Politico piece about Rahm Emanuel's short but lucrative i-banking career: One signature transaction was the $16 billion merger of Unicom Corp. and PECO Energy Co. into Exelon Corp., now one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, with nearly $19 billion in annual revenue.
Democrats aren't squandering any time getting the ball rolling on new energy legislation. Yesterday, Rahm Emanuel told a gathering of business leaders that an economic stimulus package heavy on "green infrastructure" would be Obama's first priority after he's sworn in: Mr. Emanuel promised that a major economic stimulus would be "the first order of business" for Mr. Obama when he takes office Jan. 20.
Here's a look at some tensions that could arise if Robert Gates stays on as Secretary of Defense, beyond disappointment from the get-out-of-Iraq chorus. Since at least spring, Gates has been issuing a series of far-reaching policy documents which explicitly try to set the future direction of U.S. defense policy.
The Restless Mr. Kerry (cont'd)
The Boston Globe is reporting that John Kerry will be named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is what people in his circle told me last summer was his ultimate goal. I suppose this doesn't rule out his going to State or (less likely) Interior, but it's definitely looking more and more as if Kerry will be staying in the Senate. --Jason Zengerle
November 19, 2008
In the spring of 2007, long before Sarah Palin became a feminist icon, before Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers reared their unreconstructed heads, before Hillary Clinton ever questioned his readiness to be president, Barack Obama's greatest nemesis was a 29-year-old paralegal named Joe Anthony. Anthony had attracted tens of thousands of fans to a MySpace page he'd set up for Obama—a testament to the legions of new voters the candidate was inspiring. But, back in Chicago, all Anthony's site inspired was indigestion.
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