Morning Roundup

Monday Morning: Kroft-Obama; The Bill Factor; And The Rivals' Post-Election Sitdown

Good morning. It's Monday, and the political world had a busy weekend. The G-20 met here in Washington to discuss the global financial crisis; the Obama transition team announced several more members of the future White House staff; and the President-elect and future First Lady appeared on 60 minutes.

In the 60 minutes interview, Obama told CBS's Steve Kroft that he will not attempt to re-create the New Deal programs of FDR's administration, but would look for solutions that are "true to our times". He vowed to develop a "clear focused program for homeowners" to prevent further foreclosures. He discussed potential aid to the auto industry, but said it would be "conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders, all the stakeholders coming together with a plan" to develop a sustainable model for the troubled sector. And he said that soon after taking office he would start looking at plans to draw down troops from Iraq and re-deploy them to Afghanistan to "shore up" that war...a move that will surely be aided by the accord signed this morning that sets a three-year timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

The President-elect declined to give answers about potential Cabinet secretaries, though he did hint that some former rivals could get seats at the table (citing Abraham Lincoln's "team of rivals" as a wise maneuver). He also joked about his new lack of anonymity — having to get house calls from his barber instead of visiting the shop — and reiterated his call for a college football tournament to replace the convoluted bowl system.

The question that's still capturing Washington imaginations: whether Hillary Clinton will indeed be named Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

There is a very interesting conversation to be had about Clinton's various qualifications for the gig — including how Obama will re-cast his view of her judgment, which he spent much of the primary campaign maligning. And, by the way, Republicans seem sort of psyched about a Clinton State appointment. Could you ever have dreamed such a thing back in 1994? Plus, Kissinger!

But in fact much of the focus re: Hillary Clinton's potential career change appears to be on Bill Clinton (NYT, WP, Politico) — especially in light of the famed 63-question application. Politico's Glenn Thrush sums up one sizeable stumbling block:

The Clinton Global Initiative has earned widespread plaudits for its efforts to eradicate AIDS, malaria and poverty in Africa. But it could prove problematic for Obama if the former president continues to seek donations from foreign countries — at the same time his wife is asking them for diplomatic concessions as Secretary of State.

There is also the question of Clinton's other business ties and the donors to his Presidential Library — among the disclosed are several foreign governments, including the Saudi Royal Family. But Clinton has declined to release the full list, and he is not required by law to do so.

But now that the vetting of HRC for the State job has become so public, if Obama declines to appoint her he risks damaging the Democratic party unity that his organization built so carefully after Clinton's June 7th concession speech — especially after the discontent when he declined to seriously consider her for VP. Can we divine from the fact that no one is tamping down the rampant media speculation that she is a very serious contender, Bill or no Bill? (It's not like the former President's international dealings are a revelation to the Obama staff...) Or alternatively, is the rush of Bill stories the result of some kind of push for political cover?

And finally, Barack Obama holds his first post-election meeting with former opponent John McCain today. The WSJ speculates on what each man has to gain from a "swift reconciliation":

Mr. Obama's pledge to move beyond the partisan bickering requires Republican partners. Sen. McCain would be a potent symbol — and one with a long history of working with Democrats on key issues on the president-elect's agenda: climate change, energy efficiency and national service.


Obama aides stress the opportunity the president-elect is offering Sen. McCain. The senator turned off some independents and Democrats who had admired him with his tack rightward to win over the Republican base. He now has a chance to reclaim his maverick, bipartisan mantle.

It all sounds so win-win. And wouldn't it be great if these guys could genuinely leave behind the bitter campaign and work together on issues where they might reach viable compromises that could move the country forward: global warming, say, or immigration? But there's reason to add caution to that optimism...and it's not just the recent jabs on socialism, celebrity, lack of computer skills, or George Bush's third term. Don't forget the acrimony that resulted when the two tried to cooperate on ethics reform in the Senate.



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