Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transition Flood

We aren't talking leaks anymore--this is a flood.

In addition to official announcements (David Axlerod as WH senior advisor, Greg Craig as White House Counsel, Lisa Brown will serve as Staff Secretary, and Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary), there were apparently sourced stories that Tom Daschle, former Senate Democratic leader, is to be named Secretary of Health and Human Services, and will largely be in charge of getting universal health care created and passed.

Also that, pending final vetting, Janet Napolitano has been named Secretary of Homeland Security, and Chicago businessperson and a chief architect of the Obama fundraising apparatus Penny Pritzker has been likewise slotted for Secretary of Commerce. Update: Pritzker issued a statement Thursday that she's not taking a cabinet appointment. These are mostly Obama people, midwestern and except for Daschle, on the young side of 60.

And more "signs" that Robert Gates is considering/is being asked to, stay on as Sec of Defense.

These gushed out Wednesday, after Tuesday's spill of Peter Orszag as Budget Director and Eric Holder as Attorney General. Most of these apparent appointments have been praised. I've noted elsewhere that Orszag's appointment, along with Obama's message to the Climate Summit signals that the Climate Crisis will be high on Obama's agenda. The same may be said, with Orszag as well as Daschle, that health care isn't going to be left behind either.

But all this continues to be subsumed to the continuing noise over Hillary, will she or won't she. Wednesday saw more push-back in the media, with a few CW heavyweights like Tom Friedman and David Broder warning against it, and more stories alluded to distress within Team Obama over the Drama Queen appearances. The Times suggests Aides in each camp have grown increasingly sour toward the other in recent days as the matter played out publicly.

Also some attempts to mute the media mantra of the Obama administration as Clinton redux. Al G. put it this way:No Obama administration staffers are more guaranteed to be free of Clintonesque manipulation or fantasy than those like Craig and Holder that at great risk to their careers bucked the Clinton machine back when the polls suggested Senator Clinton's "inevitable" nomination to the presidency. They're battle-tested, inoculated and have zero illusions about wanting to relive the failed Clinton presidency. They've learned decisively from its mistakes in a depth and detail that most will never have the chance to do.

If these names turn out to be actual appointments, it does suggest that Obama is fielding less a Team of Rivals as an All-Star team. These are star skill players at their positions.

As for all the transition leakiness, there are reporters complaining that they aren't getting enough leaks. I don't know if I can blame the Clintonistas for all of them. They are starting to look like trial balloons--get the names out there and see if opposition develops, especially for the Cabinet level posts that require Senate confirmation.

Okay, back to the fun part: the election. The numbers continue to roll in, and Obama continues to gain votes. He's gone from winning by 5% in the popular vote on election night to now ahead by about 7%: with over 67 million votes now, Obama has 52.7% to McCain's 45.9.

Even where Obama lost, he gained--or won something. Missouri has finally been called for McCain, but only by 3,632 votes. Obama lost Utah of course--but get this, he won Salt Lake County, which includes Salt Lake City (by just over 200 votes.) The GOP won the county by at least 20 points in the last two elections.

Meanwhile the Minnesota Senate recount has begun--Franken made up some ground on the first day, but there's a long way to go.

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