Transition 2008-2009

Editor’s note Although the transition is technically over, we have chosen to continue this page until at least all the major appointments are confirmed.
We continue to be astounded that people who have been honoured by consideration for a senior post would be willing to embarrass the new President by having to step aside for failure to pay taxes. This is not something one easily overlooks and most of these individuals knew full well that they had the sword of Damocles the Tax Man hanging over their heads., not to mention the ultra-savvy Mr. Daschle who knew just how the vetting process works.

Trade Representative Pick to Pay Back Taxes
Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas whom President Obama nominated to serve as United States trade representative, has agreed to pay $9,975 in back taxes for failing to report speaking fees as income and for incorrectly deducting season tickets to Dallas Mavericks basketball games. At least in this case, there seems to have been some reason for the difference in interpretation of what was owed.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas was chosen as secretary of health and human services on Monday by President Obama, who hailed her as an ideal person to work with Republicans as well as Democrats to fix an ailing health care system.
13 February
While there is nothing terribly funny about the problems President Obama has encountered with his cabinet picks, Gail Collins has an entertaining solution It’s 8 p.m., American TV viewers, so you know it’s time for: Who Wants to Be a Secretary of Commerce?
(Gr)egg on whose face?
(Politico) Who should be more embarrassed: Gregg or Obama?
12 February
Another Obama cabinet pick quits
(BBC) Republican senator Judd Gregg withdraws as President Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary, citing policy differences.
3 February
The importance of being sinless
(The Economist) To lose a cabinet appointee may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness
Daschle Ends Bid for Post; Obama Concedes Mistake
Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination as secretary of health and human services on Tuesday after weathering four days of scrutiny over unpaid taxes
I’ve got to own up to my mistake, which is that ultimately it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules. You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes. – President Obama
Prominent journalists join Obama team
(IHT) An unusual number of journalists from prominent, mainstream organizations started new government jobs in January, providing new kindling to the debate over whether Obama is receiving unusually favorable treatment in the news media.
30 January
Modest Illinois Successor Is the Anti-Blagojevich
Mr. Quinn, 60, can be so unassuming that he watched the inauguration of President Obama in Washington crunched down on his knees so that people behind him could get a better view. When prone to boasting, which is not very often, it can be about miserly stuff, like staying in budget hotels and eating discount meals. Illinois Senate expels Blagojevich
27 January
NY’s Gillibrand takes Senate oath
(AP) — Kirsten Gillibrand, a little-known, pro-gun Democrat from upstate New York, was sworn in Tuesday as the state’s junior U.S. senator. She was named to the post after Caroline Kennedy withdrew.
21 January
Kennedy Withdraws Senate Bid
15 January
WASHINGTON — Pledging to run an independent Justice Department free of political taint, Eric H. Holder Jr. said on Thursday that he believes unequivocally that “waterboarding” is torture, and that it must not be practiced by the United States regardless of the circumstances. More
U.S. SEC nominee promises “laser” focus on fraud
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to head the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, told lawmakers she would reinvigorate an agency beset by regulatory missteps and blamed for missing one of the biggest investment frauds in history.
14 January
(FP Morning Brief) Treasury secretary nominee Timothy Geithner‘s confirmation process has been complicated by his failure to pay $34,000 in federal income taxes.
Republicans are preparing witnesses to delay or derail the confirmation of Eric Holder as attorney general.
President Bush declared Barack Obama’s inauguration a state of emergency in order to get more federal funds to help D.C. cope with crowds.
9 January
Impeachment call for Blagojevich
8 Jamuary
Conyers: Gupta not up to S.G. post
Barack Obama’s rumored pick of TV-star surgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta is drawing its first congressional fire, from a senior House Democrat who is rallying colleagues to oppose Gupta.
Barack Obama asks longtime University of Chicago professor Cass Sunstein to join his administration
(Chicago Tribune) The president-elect is expected to name Sunstein—his friend and informal adviser—to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a transition official said late Wednesday.
Paterson: Kennedy lacks some experience for Senate
7 January
If You Think Panetta’s Wrong For CIA, You Might Be Part Of The Problem
Frank Naif, US Army And Intelligence Veteran
(HuffPost) If the Obama administration is serious about fixing US intelligence, there is a compelling logic to putting Panetta in charge at CIA. Panetta, the intelligence naif, is not armpit deep in government (let alone intelligence) contracting. And he has loudly proclaimed his unequivocal opposition to torture. Plus he has a reputation for skillful management and navigation of the corridors of power.
Richardson withdrawal leaves cabinet gap
New Mexico governor insists he will be cleared in a grand jury probe
5 January
Obama’s Intel Picks Short On Direct Experience
Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, an eight-term congressional veteran and administrative expert, is being tapped to head the CIA. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair is Obama’s choice to be director of national intelligence, a selection expected for weeks, according to two Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not officially announced the choices.
2 January
Q&A: The Blagojevich scandal
30 December
Caroline Kennedy fails to impress
(BBC) Asked if President George W Bush’s tax cuts on the wealthy should be repealed immediately, Ms Kennedy replied: “Well, you know, that’s something, obviously, that, you know, in principle and in the campaign, you know, I think that, um, the tax cuts, you know, were expiring and needed to be repealed,” the [New York Daily News] reported.
18 December
Obama Makes Key Appointments to Economic Team
Obama announced former Treasury official Gary Gensler as his choice to head the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
Report: Ron Kirk to be Obama Trade Representative
(Business Week) Earlier, Washington seemed to have settled on word that Rep. Xavier Becerra of California would be the trade representative. But Becerra yesterday announced that he would stay in Congress, where he will be vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
One surprising thing is that Kirk appears to hold significantly different views on trade from Becerra. Becerra had said that he regretted voting for NAFTA, and opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement. But As Dallas mayor from 1995 to 2001, Kirk appeared to be more favorable toward free trade.
15 December
Schools Chief From Chicago Is Cabinet Pick
[Arne] Duncan, a 44-year-old Harvard graduate, has raised achievement in the nation’s third-largest school district and often faced the ticklish challenge of shuttering failing schools and replacing ineffective teachers, usually with improved results. He helped draft Mr. Obama’s extensive education platform, which called for recruiting thousands of new teachers, encouraging local school districts to adopt performance-based teacher pay initiatives, recruiting and training effective principals, and placing new emphasis on science and mathematics education.
The platform also calls for making major federal investments in early childhood education, which Mr. Obama believes is a more effective use of educational dollars than spending them on remedial programs later.
27 November
Obama values experience, credentials in economic team; Volcker, Goolsbee latest picks
(New York Daily News) Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, 81, will head the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a new White House panel to help President-elect Barack Obama create jobs and bring stability to the ailing financial system. University of Chicago economist, Austan Goolsbee will be the Economic Recovery Advisory Board’s top staff official
24 November
Nouriel Roubini on Obama’s Economic team Newsweek Interview
22 November
Geithner, Summers to Take the Lead on New Economic Team
(WSJ Online) The team projects heft, not ideology, said James Galbraith, a liberal economist at the University of Texas who has been in contact with the Obama economic staff. In the opening months of the Obama administration, Messrs. Geithner and Summers will be shepherding through Congress some of the most aggressive, interventionist economic policies since the Depression, and observers caution that the president-elect can’t afford to appear as if he is exploiting the nation’s economic crisis for an ideological agenda.
More on Newsbusters
20 November
Obama’s Cabinet Picks Heavy on Washington Experience
(Fox News) Obama has chosen former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, a 30-year veteran of Washington, D.C., to be his secretary of health and human services, and former deputy attorney general Eric Holder, a 20-year Washington veteran, as his attorney general. His transition team is also reviewing former first lady and current New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has 15 years of experience in Washington, for the position as secretary of state.
Obama’s pick to lead the seven-year-old Department of Homeland Security, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, is a Washington outsider.

One Comment on "Transition 2008-2009"

  1. Guy Stanley December 9, 2009 at 7:06 pm ·

    On “The Best are not always the brightest”
    Seasoning matters, but all the Kenedy team had fought in WWII, and therefore found it plausible that Ho Chi Minh was a S-E Asian Adolf…I think one just has to accept that being Top Nation is very hard and it takes every ounce of every resource every day including great cognitive intelligence to get it right more often than not. It’s often the things you don’t expect that so often prove fatal…the Brits casual estimate of the aftermath of Sarajevo, the tariff auction that became Smoot Hawley, Acheson’s careless comment about Korea being outside the US security perimeter…Clinton’s neglect of Osama after the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan….Compare such errors of omission to Bush’s commission…either way, when the rock hits the pitcher or the pitcher the rock, it’s bad for the pitcher…

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