Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama starts transition

Robert Gibbs will be the press secretary for the administration.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden looks to Walter Mondale as his inspiration for his role as vice president.
is former Vice President Walter Mondale, not Cheney, who is the likely model for Biden. Mondale, who served under President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, was consulted on almost every appointment and had access to the same documents as the president.

Mondale, 80, met with Biden in August during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where the two men discussed the vice presidency, Mondale said in an interview. Biden has also read a memo that described the role of the vice president in the Carter White House, Mondale said.[...]

Biden, according to Axelrod and other Obama aides, is expected to be an important adviser on Obama's initial national- security and foreign-policy appointments, as well as on policy questions.

Like Obama, Georgia Governor Carter was inexperienced in Washington. He relied heavily on Mondale, who spent 12 years as a U.S. senator from Minnesota, to guide his congressional agenda.

A Biden adviser said the vice president would be a full partner in governing and involved in all the Obama administration's big decisions.

An example of the unique relationship that vice presidents have with their bosses is the regular weekly lunch that has become a tradition since the 1970s, when Gerald Ford served under Richard Nixon.
Jeffrey Goldberg has a bit more on the Rahm Emanuel connection to Israel.
1) This choice makes the entire "Does Obama secretly hate Israel?" conversation seem a bit ridiculous (Though the vast majority of Jewish voters seemed to have figured that out by the election). Rahm did not, despite the rumors, serve in the Israeli Army, but he is deeply and emotionally committed to Israel and its safety. We've talked about the issue a dozen times; it's something he thinks about constantly, and his appointment gives me further reason to believe that the Obama Administration will not wait seven years to address the Israeli-Arab crisis.

2) Peace-processors take heart: Rahm, precisely because he's a lover of Israel, will not have much patience with Israeli excuse-making, so when the next Prime Minister tells President Obama that as much as he'd love to, he can't dismantle the Neve Manyak settlement outpost, or whichever outpost needs dismantling, because of a) domestic politics; b) security concerns, or c) the Bible, Rahm will call out such nonsense, and it will be very hard for right-wing Israelis to come back and accuse him of being a self-hating Jew. This is not to say that he's unaware of Palestinian dysfunction, or Iranian extremism, but that he has a good grasp of some of Israel's foibles as well. All in all, it's a very heartening choice.
David Axelrod will sign on as a senior advisor.

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