Archive | November, 2008

Has Obama ‘Punked’ Hillary?

29 Nov

tear_hillary_obama_080731_mnOne aspect of the likely nomination of Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State has been completely overlooked: at a stroke, it removes Barack Obama’s only serious, high-powered opposition within the party.

Consider the murmurings during late summer and early fall: that Hillary, if Obama didn’t make it, or even if he did, could engage in another run for the top job next time around. That’s not going to happen now. By offering her the senior cabinet office, Obama has effectively neutralized his main intra-party rival.

Or consider the question of money. As a Senator, Hillary could raise money to pay off her 2008 campaign debt; as a cabinet officer, she can’t.

Then, look at the fate of Secretaries of State going back to Reagan: they get replaced after a single term. Bill Clinton, for example, replaced Warren Christopher with Madeline Albright.

If Hillary takes the job, she’s going to wake up one morning in 2013 with no Senate seat, no power base, a big pile of debt, no Secretaryship, in short, nothing at all. Her big issue of healthcare reform, which she could have shaped from the Senate? Somebody else is going to take care of that.

You have to wonder if that’s the point.

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Iowa Cafe Swamped With Orders For ‘Obama cookie’

29 Nov

DES MOINES, Iowa – Want an example of the change Barack Obama is bringing to the country? Check out cookie sales at Baby Boomers Cafe in Des Moines.

Ever since word spread about the president-elect and his family’s fondness for Baby Boomers’ chocolate chunk cookies, the small downtown restaurant can’t bake them fast enough.

“Two months ago I was giving these cookies away,” said co-owner Rodney Maxfield. “Now, it’s like, ‘I need two dozen cookies. I need four-dozen cookies.'”

The Obamas were frequent visitors to the cafe in the summer of 2007 when the Illinois senator devoted much of his time to Iowa, where the state’s precinct caucuses kick off the presidential nominating process. Obama’s main office was next door to Boomers, and his staff made the cafe a second home.

His daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, would stop by with their mother, Michelle, and Maxfield said they loved the cookies. During a stop in Iowa last month, Obama’s staff ordered about a dozen cookies for the family. That’s when word got out about their affection for the confection.

Suddenly, sales of 400 cookies in a good week soared to more than 1,000 a week, with requests coming from as far away as Mexico. Alas, the price is going up, from 50 cents to 75 cents a cookie to make up for the time it takes to make more each day.

“I think everybody just … thought, ‘Oh, great cookie, great president — the world is a happy place. Barack’s going to fix all the problems and if I have a bite of this cookie it’s going to make me feel good,'” Maxfield

‘Office of President-Elect’ Is Just a Fancy Sign

25 Nov

obama Orszag Nabors

President-elect Barack Obama is looking very presidential these days. When he makes an announcement, he is ringed by American flags and stands behind a lectern that has a very presidential-looking placard announcing “The Office of the President-Elect.” 

But the props are merely that. Under the Constitution, there is no such thing as the Office of the President-elect. Technically, Obama will not even become the president-elect until the Electoral College convenes after the second Wednesday in December and elects him based on the results of the Nov. 4 general election, as stated in the Constitution.

So what is Obama’s executive authority in the weeks leading to Jan. 20?

In the 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the next president must ensure a smooth transition by selecting political appointees to manage key agencies and offices within the Executive Branch, and by creating the policies that will define the new administration — all while respecting the authority held by the current president.

The Presidential Transition Act — created in 1963 and amended in 2000 — establishes formal provisions for the transition period by outlining training and other assistance that the president-elect and his team of advisers can receive as they prepare to assume office.

The amended bill — co-sponsored by lawmakers including former Sen. Fred Thompson, Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Sen. Dick Durbin — calls for the “training and orientation of high-level presidential appointees,” among other things, as well as more efficient background checks to ensure individuals are properly vetted and confirmed for office.

“New administrations face a series of hurdles they must overcome to accomplish this essential task before they can begin to govern,” Lieberman told Congress in 1999 while arguing in favor of the amended legislation.

The original bill also allowed the president-elect and vice president-elect certain “services and facilities,” like suitable office space to conduct transition operations, public funds to pay their staff’s salaries and money to transport workers to and from Washington.

Obama has employed over 500 staffers to assist in his transition operations — working from a nondescript office building in downtown Washington and from locations in his hometown of Chicago.

His transition team has received a budget of $12 million — $5.2 million of which was allocated by Congress, and the rest from private donations of under $5,000.

As president-elect, Obama is also given the same highly classified intelligence briefings that President Bush receives on a daily basis. And Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden get full Secret Service protection, which Obama also received during the Democratic primaries and general election campaign.

But the “Office of the President-Elect,” while critical in building the future government, has no official power — which Obama himself acknowledged during his victory speech in Chicago on Election Night.

“It is an office — it’s just a quasi-government office for planning the takeover of the government,” said Stephen J. Wayne, a professor at Georgetown University’s department of government.

“Obama has no formal power as far as the existing government is concerned, but he has a lot of informal influence, which President Bush has encouraged,” he added.

Wayne compared the function of the “Office of the President-Elect” to spring training in baseball.
“It doesn’t count in the standings, but it does contribute to a team’s ability to do well from day one,” he said.

The extensive operations and considerable funding for Obama’s transition office are not unique. President Bush received $8.5 million to fund his transition team — a sum that was “unprecedented at the time,” according to Georgetown University government professor Chris Hull.

“The Bush administration built their transition team a month before the election was over to make sure it would be a fully-functioning office on November 5,” he said.

Despite its lack of formal power, some argue that the “Office of the President-Elect” must maintain an official and authoritative front — even if just for show. This transition comes at a particularly vulnerable time for the U.S. government in protecting against terrorism — as evidenced in 1993 when terrorists bombed the World Trade Center as former President Bill Clinton prepared to take office.

“President Bush and President-Elect Obama have stressed together that the times of transition are particularly perilous in terms of terrorist strikes,” said Hull. “The President-Elect and his team must appear to maintain confidence.”

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SNL: Rahm Emanuel

24 Nov

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A Presidential Mattress

24 Nov

A New Jersey mattress maker that has crafted handmade beds for other presidents hopes to have the honor of making President-elect Obama’s bed.

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‘Disgusting’ Pro-Obama Media Bias in Election Coverage

24 Nov

At least some in the media are willing to speak about the blatant media bias that favored Obama this election cycle. Better late then never I guess.

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From Jake Tapper at Political Punch:

Via Politico we hear that at a recent conference, Mark Halperin — of Time and ABC News — decried the media coverage of the 2008 race.

“It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war,” Halperin said. “It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”

“The example that I use, at the end of the campaign, was the two profiles that The New York Times ran of the potential first ladies,” Halperin said. “The story about Cindy McCain was vicious. It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it case her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn’t talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that’s ever been written about her.”

The Michelle Obama profile, however, was “like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is.”

Halperin said that obviously some of the positive coverage was for fair reasons. “You do have to take into account the fact that this was a remarkable candidacy,” Halperin said. “There were a lot of good stories. He was new.”

But that said, Halperin believes that the coverage was way too slanted.

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that I too wonder just how fair the media coverage of this campaign was.

Case in point: perhaps the most unfair and negative TV ad run during the entire campaign, by either side, was the Spanish-language TV ad Obama ran against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, that got very little media coverage.

Why didn’t it get more coverage? If McCain had run a comparable ad — with unfair charges, trying to exploit racial tensions — would it have been as under-covered?

In any case, Obama won for any number of reasons, not the least of which were the modern Gold Standard in presidential campaigns and a nation that wanted a dramatic change.

But I believe Halperin’s larger point — since he brought in the media’s rather wanting coverage of the build-up to the war in Iraq as well — is the fact that reporters have an obligation to be better.

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Obama Builds Economic Team, Disappoints Progressives

24 Nov

I wonder if Obama has any regrets about this whole president position now that he’s in the middle of the worst economic crisis the country has faced since the 1930s. He certainly has his work cut out for him. Many future presidents have enjoyed a post election vacation and rested up a bit before taking over as President. Obama does not have the luxury of resting. He’s already filled several key roles including announcing today that he has formed an economic team with the appointments of:

  • Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, as Treasury secretary
  • Larry Summers, a former Treasury secretary, as head of the National Economic Council
  • Christina Romer, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to chair his Council of Economic Advisers
  • Melody Barnes, of the Center for American Progress, as director the Domestic Policy Council

In reading an article about Obama’s new economic team, I found this last bit worth noting:

How long a honeymoon?

The economic crisis has affected not only the speed with which Obama has moved but also the people he has chosen. The leaders of the economic team, the prospective attorney general and secretary of State and even the new White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, all are veterans of the Clinton administration.

That has prompted some dismay and unease on left-leaning websites such as OpenLeft.com, who note Obama ran on a platform of bringing “change” to Washington. Blogger Chris Bowers, for one, calls the lack of “progressives” on the Obama team “extremely disappointing.”

Reischauer, on the other hand, calls it “comforting, in the sense that this is the pool of individuals that has substantial experience” who can help get policies implemented and legislation enacted in short order. The new president won’t have much time to show progress, he cautions.

“On Jan. 21st, everybody might say, ‘Oh, he inherited a mess.’ Nonetheless, it will be viewed as his mess to deal with and if things don’t turn around, the criticism will begin.”

To read about ‘extremely disappointed’ lefty progressives crying over how there is no real change is just so infuriating.

The hope and change myth has always been a ‘pretty fairy story’ meant to lure away support from Hillary. Once Obama became ‘the guy’ he began to move quickly to take Hillary’s place at the center. Progressives act as if this was just simply ‘a political move’ from Obama to win the election by appealing to middle Americans.

Ha! Who is fooling who here? Obama is not a progressive!

The election is over and Obama has yet to pull off the moderate mask and reveal this supposed progressive underneath.

If he were serious about bringing change to Washington, he would not have picked good ole Joe Biden for VP. That to me signalled his willingness to adhere to the old guard because he lacks the experience necessary to get the job done without them. How progressive can he be when he voted the absolute wrong way on FISA!?

Wake up people. Obama is the Clinton administration all over again just without a Clinton at the top of the org chart.

Let’s at least be honest about what he truly is and has always really been.