Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama and his BlackBerry

John Podesta argues that President Barack Obama should keep his BlackBerry. Even if he doesn't use it for emailing purposes, he can still access the internet with it.
"Let the man have his BlackBerry."

I said that to a meeting of senior transition staffers in Washington last week. I've been working with Barack Obama since before the election, and I know that without his virtual connection to old friends and trusted confidants beyond the bubble that seals off every president from the people who elected him, he'd be like a caged lion padding restlessly around the West Wing, wondering what's happening on the other side of the iron bars that surround the People's House.[...]

Obama understands that he has to tap every possible source of ideas and support if he is to meet the hope he has inspired in tens of millions of Americans. As he said the other day in a news conference: "Democrats or Republicans, we welcome good ideas. ... This is not an intellectual exercise, and there is no pride of authorship."

That's why his first major political meeting took him not to the Congressional Democratic Caucus but to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, for a bipartisan meeting with America's governors and discussions that ranged far beyond the who's up and who's down concerns of the Beltway. It's also why he altered the tax provisions in his economic recovery plan simply because senators convinced him that more jobs would be created if money were invested somewhere besides a tax credit for companies hiring new workers.

He asks, he listens, he decides. Good traits for troubled times.

And he doesn't really hold grudges. He knew that he needed someone whose experience can help him reassert American leadership in a world that needs leadership badly, so he went outside the bubble and picked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had been through a brutal 15-round title fight with him for the nomination, to be his secretary of State.

I know that the capacity to reach out and stay in contact with the world beyond the bubble will remind President Obama that economic recovery isn't measured by the theoretical economic returns but in people employed in good jobs, with secure benefits and rising wages.

It will remind him that education policy is less about legislative victories or targeted grants and more about sending children into the world with the tools they need.

And energy policy is more than progressive ideas and editorial approval. It's protecting a beautiful nation for us and our children and putting people to work keeping it green.

Today, thousands of reporters, pundits and bloggers will produce instant analyses of the president's swearing-in. By dawn Wednesday, there will be a comprehensive document in President Obama's in-box summarizing the reaction, highlighting key opinion makers and linking to original sources across the Internet. Obama will surely flip through them.

But I know that he will have gotten his first feedback hours earlier, from a friend, far beyond the Beltway. On the Blackberry he's keeping. And knowing that gives me hope.
This article from ABC confirms that he's likely to keep his BlackBerry.
ABC News' Ann Compton reports that top confidantes David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett tell ABC News that Obama will keep his blackberry to keep up personal contacts "outside the bubble" of the White House. The two advisors confirm the president-elect wants to continue messaging political allies and personal friends such as his high school friends from Hawaii. "He's pretty determined," Axelrod says.

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