Thursday, November 13, 2008

Transition and Other Gossip (Plus Farewell to Ted the Felon in Alaska)

Part of why the media and blogosphere are full of misinformation and leaping to conclusions is that this transition is just damn exciting. People are excited! Polls show that ordinary Americans are even hopeful, and the likelihood of sweeping change is exhilarating.

So as long as you and I understand that this is all just gossip, why not indulge? Some of the credible names I'm spotting for Secretary of Health and Human Services: (Dr.) Howard Dean, Kathleen Sibelius (who took on Blue Cross in Kansas) or Tom Daschle (wrote a book on health care crisis.) Sibelius is also mentioned for Commerce, Education, Energy--does this mean she won't get any of them? Not that every appointment has to be a Big Name, but those are interesting ones. The actual jobs could just as well go to folks like James Lee Witt at Homeland Security, or James Comey at Justice.

Bill Richardson is still mentioned for State but also for Interior. That would be interesting, too, though it would be really neat if at last the Interior Department is run by a Native American. Tammy Duckworth is mentioned for both Veterans Affairs and Obama's Senate seat; Max Cleland is the other Veterans Affairs name.

Other big names I mentioned before and still think are credible: RFKjr., Janet Napolitano.

Big names being mentioned I really don't see in the Obama Administration: Ed Rendell, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore (though I'd be surprised if he wasn't a special envoy to the climate treaty next year), Richard Lugar, Colin Powell (don't think he wants another go-round), Ahnold. I do see a job for Mrs. Ahnold. I'm kind of agnostic about John Kerry for State. I don't think it will happen, and he's going to be an important force in the Senate.

Scientific types are really excited about the return of real science to the federal government, and are watching appointments like Director of White House Science and Technology Policy, and some key ones at lower crucial levels in the various departments. They're interested in what kind of scientist, what level of expertise, anything that signals policy. So far, some are pretty impressed with the relevant people on the transition team.

Meanwhile, the progressive blogosphere is very impressed with the transition Internet appointments, and the prospects for the first wired White House.

As for how the administration will work, Karen Tumulty isolates another quote from John Podesta's presentation Tuesday: President-elect Obama intends to continue the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council. The important policy coordination role will be maintained in the White House. ... There's a central function of policy development coordination that takes place at the White House in conjunction with OMB. What he's looking for in a cabinet is people who are very strong, who can carry out the mandate, the missions of those agencies, and do it across the priorities that he's laid out to get the economy moving again, to get jobs moving again, to get wages growing again. "

Ambinder sees a transition paying a lot of attention to process, and: Obama seems to understand that the way he manages the White House during the first few week is absolutely vital to the smooth functioning of his administration after that."

Good news from...Alaska? Oh yeah. At close of business Wednesday, Democrat Mark Begich has erased Ted the Felon's 3,000 vote lead and now leads by 814 votes. With remaining votes to be counted Thursday (maybe Friday, maybe Monday as well) reported to come from Dem districts, Nat Silver sez Mark Begich is now an overwhelming favorite to win the Alaska Senate seat.

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