WASHINGTON–Already elected under historic circumstances, President-elect Barack Obama’s transition to power seems to be moving at unprecedented speed, beginning with his appointment of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., as his chief of staff two days
WASHINGTON–Already elected under historic circumstances, President-elect Barack Obama’s transition to power seems to be moving at unprecedented speed, beginning with his appointment of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., as his chief of staff two days after the Nov. 4 election.
“He’s beaten a lot of records during the course of the campaign,” said Obama Transition Team Cochair John Podesta on Fox News Sunday.
“I think people probably don’t know this, but with the exception of President Bush 41, which was an intra-party transition, no new president has named a cabinet secretary before December, going back through the Kennedy administration.”
Obama has also met with primary campaign opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and has reportedly offered her the plum position of Secretary of State. Some news reports say Clinton has accepted the post.
Obama also met with his general election foe Sen. John McCain, RAriz., discussing a number of subjects, including helping the nation avoid bi-partisan bickering.
Obama has reportedly chosen Eric Holder, former deputy Attorney General under President Bill Clinton, and acting Attorney General in the first days of the Bush Administration, as Attorney General. If confirmed, Holder would be the nation’s first Black Attorney General.
Obama told 60 Minutes that he had been reading a lot about President Abraham Lincoln, who put some of his political foes in his cabinet, and he said he’d probably have some Republicans in his cabinet.
While Obama and his team have balked from getting too involved, insisting “the United States only has one government and one president at a time,” the ailing economy and the prospect of more lost jobs have forced his hand.
In his first meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office Nov. 10, Obama reportedly pressed the president to support emergency aid for the struggling auto industry and a broader economic stimulus package.
His disagreement with Bush on economic policy signals the stark differences in philosophy between the incumbent and his successor that may spark a reversal of some of the decisions made in the past eight years.
Podesta said Obama and his team have already begun reviewing Bush’s executive orders.
“We’re looking in virtually every agency to see where we can move forward, whether that’s on energy transformation, on improving health care, on stem cell research,” he said.
“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action,” Podesta continued, “and I think we’ll see the president do that to try to restore … a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good, that we’re going to try to restore wages, give people the right kind of ways that they can build on their own lives, and when they work hard that they’ll be rewarded for it.”
On national security, Obama advisers have reported policies that are widely divergent from the Bush administrations.
The president-elect has long indicated his intent to start withdrawing combat forces from Iraq—a process to be completed in 16 months—and renew the focus on Afghanistan that had been lost in the past four years.
According to news reports, Obama advisors say the incoming commander-in-chief intends to take a more regional approach to the war in Afghanistan, including possible dialogue with Iran and with the Afghan government along with “reconcilable” elements of the Taliban. And he intends to ramp up efforts to find Osama bin Laden.
Obama said he would close Guantanamo Bay, a move Bush considered as necessary but found to be impractical, but a move which his successor pledged to make.
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspapers
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