December 26, 2008: President-Elect Barack Obama Completes his Cabinet

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama met with Senator John McCain, his Republican rival, after the election in November.

In Focus:

  • Barack Obama: Yes, He Could Quite A Year, As Illinois Senator Claims Presidency: In the first week of 2008, Barack Obama rocked the political world with a win in the Iowa caucuses. But the question remained: Could this black man with a rich personal history and sparse elective resume make it all the way to the presidency? Yes, he could.
    Obama took us along on a wild ride, smashing political and racial barriers as he was elected the nation’s 44th president in an electoral landslide. His message of hope and change – and the viral YouTube mantra of “Yes, we can” – resonated with millions of voters after eight years of George W. Bush. – CBS News, 12-24-08
  • 2008: The Political Year in Quotes FOXNews.com runs down the most memorable lines of the 2008 political year:
  • John Edwards: “I don’t talk about these tabloids. The tabloid trash is full of lies.”
  • John Mc
  • Barack Obama: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
  • Cain: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
  • Tina Fey: “I can see Russia from my house!”
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson: “I want to cut his nuts off.”
  • Bill Clinton: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in ’84 and ’88, and he ran a good campaign, and so did Obama.”
  • Rev. Jeremiah Wright: “I believe our government is capable of doing anything.”
  • Rod Blagojevich: “There’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me.””Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it has about 18 million cracks in it.”
  • Ted Kennedy: “Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat. But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you that I will be there next January.” – Fox News, 12-24-08
  • Barack Obama just added you as a friend on Facebook: (Humor) Washington: Despite the assumption that President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet nominees are told of their selection via phone calls, the Los Angeles Times has learned that the Obama is actually notifying his picks by “friending” them on the social networking site Facebook. Requests to Obama for comment on the following transcript have gone unanswered, though he did “poke” us just as this went to press…. – LAT
  • Name by name, Obama’s Cabinet taking shape 12-11-08

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • Obama Should Heed the Advice of George H.W. Bush: There has been much talk about President-elect Barack Obama looking to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt for inspiration and insight on building his administration and charting his first 100 days in office. But some of the most helpful guidance available could come from an over-looked source — George H.W. Bush. – WaPo, 12-24-08
  • Obama’s Zen State, Well, It’s Hawaiian: NYT, 12-24-08
  • Obama Sets Ambitious Bar in Pledge to Rein In Executive Power: Barack Obama promised during the campaign to “reverse” the expansions of executive power under the Bush administration — but will he follow through? – Fox News, 12-24-08
  • Bush withdraws 1 of 19 pardons he issued Tuesday: President George W. Bush on Wednesday revoked a pardon he had granted only a day before — a step unheard of in recent memory — after learning in news reports of political contributions to Republicans by the man’s father and other information. – AP, 12-24-08
  • Resistance to Kennedy Grows Among Democrats – NYT, 12-24-08
  • Kennedy’s pursuit of Senate snared in NY politics: Caroline Kennedy’s bid to get appointed to the Senate and extend the Camelot dynasty has run into the bare-knuckle world of New York politics, where a backlash appears to be building against her. – AP, 12-24-08
  • Top Bush Aides to Linger on High-Profile Boards: As President Bush settles in for his last Christmas in office, he has been busy handing out presents to some of his top aides. And they are not the kind that require wrapping paper or a bow. – NYT, 12-24-08
  • For Now, Obama Proves to Be Elusive Target for G.O.P.: Almost two months after Barack Obama’s election, Republicans are struggling to figure out how — or even whether — to challenge or criticize him as he prepares to assume the presidency. – NYT, 12-24-08
  • Bush pardons man who helped Israel during wartime: The last words Charles Winters spoke to his son nearly 25 years ago — “Keep the faith” — guided the Miami businessman as he sought a rare presidential pardon for his late father’s crime: aiding Israel in 1948 as it fought to survive. – AP, 12-23-08
  • Blagojevich questioning takes up Obama’s time: President-elect Barack Obama has said all along that neither he nor his team was involved in any eye-popping dealmaking over filling his vacated Senate seat. Obama’s hand-picked investigator agreed. – AP, 12-23-08
  • Obama to release review on Blagojevich contacts: President-elect Barack Obama plans to reveal on Tuesday his staff’s conversations with the Illinois governor accused of trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat, transition officials said Monday. “We have a report,” said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. “It’s been ready for release for a week. We’ve held off at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office and that continues to be the case, though we expect to be able to release the report shortly.” – AP, 12-22-08
  • Ill. impeachment panel awaits word from prosecutor: The legislative committee considering impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich could be at the beginning of its work or nearing the end, depending on the wishes of federal prosecutors. – AP, 12-21-08
  • Senate-for-sale case threatens new chief of staff: But there was always one call Blagojevich regularly took, say his aides, and that was from Rahm Emanuel — his congressman, his one-time campaign adviser and, more recently — and troubling for Emanuel — one of his contacts with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition staff. – AP, 12-21-08
  • Automakers grab loans, look to Obama White House: The long-term fate of the auto industry rests with Barack Obama now that President George W. Bush has given car companies $17.4 billion in emergency rescue loans. – AP, 12-20-08
  • Bush orders emergency bailout of the auto industry: Citing imminent danger to the national economy, President Bush ordered an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry Friday, offering $17.4 billion in rescue loans and demanding tough concessions from the deeply troubled carmakers and their workers. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Ill. Gov. Blagojevich pledges to fight, won’t quit: A combative Gov. Rod Blagojevich served notice Friday that he has no intention of quitting over his corruption arrest, declaring: “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong.” The forceful three-minute speech marked the first time the former amateur boxer directly addressed the allegations since his arrest 10 days earlier. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Obama fills econ team, says business will revive: Completing his Cabinet a month before taking office, President-elect Barack Obama named officials to oversee transportation, labor, trade and small business policy Friday but warned that economic recovery won’t be nearly as swift. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Mark Felt, Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat,’ dies at 95: W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as “Deep Throat” 30 years after he helped The Washington Post unravel the Watergate scandal, has died. He was 95. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Elizabeth Alexander, Yale poet prepares for inauguration: Alexander, professor of African-American studies at Yale University, was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to compose and read a poem for his inauguration on Jan. 20. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Trade policy unclear in pick of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, some say: The choice of Ron Kirk as the nation’s top trade negotiator disappointed Barack Obama’s union supporters and left trade experts wondering Thursday how hard the president-elect will push against business interests in future deals. – Dallas Morning News, 12-19-08
  • In Transition Labor Secretary, U.S. Trade Representative: Hilda L. Solis: Current job: Democratic congresswoman from California… – WaPo, 12-19-08
  • Impeachment drive slowed against Illinois governor: Illinois lawmakers could be forced to build their impeachment case against Gov. Rod Blagojevich on a raft of relatively small grievances, rather than the blockbuster Senate-seat-for-sale allegations, for fear of undermining federal prosecutors’ criminal investigation. – AP, 12-18-08
  • Obama team weighs up to $850 billion economic jolt: President-elect Barack Obama is laying the groundwork for a giant economic stimulus package, possibly $850 billion over two years, in his first test of legislative give and take with Congress. – AP, 12-18-08
  • Ill. parties clash over potential special election: Illinois Republicans have launched a political ad campaign demanding a special election to fill the Senate vacancy that Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell, hoping to pick up a seat they had no shot at before the scandal. – AP, 12-16-08
  • Obama chooses Chicago schools chief Ed. Secretary: President-elect Barack Obama announced Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system, as education secretary Tuesday and declared that failing to improve classroom instruction is “morally unacceptable for our children.” – AP, 12-16-08
  • Obama “Review shows no inappropriate contact”: President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides did nothing inappropriate. – AP, 12-15-08
  • Ill. lawmakers take first step to oust Blagojevich: Illinois lawmakers took the first step Monday toward removing Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office as the disgraced Democrat conferred with a bulldog defense attorney known for taking cases to trial. – AP, 12-15-08
  • Caroline Kennedy Is Seeking Seat Held by Clinton: Caroline Kennedy, the deeply private daughter of America’s most storied political dynasty, will seek the United States Senate seat in New York being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. – NYT, 12-15-08
  • Obama to announce environment, energy team: President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to adopt an aggressive approach to global warming and the environment, will announce his choices to lead the effort at a news conference on Monday. – Reuters, 12-14-08
  • Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush in Baghdad: A man identified as an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at — but missed — President Bush during a news conference Sunday evening in Baghdad, where Bush was making a farewell visit. – CNN, 12-14-08
  • Spousal Ties to Lobbying Test a Vow From Obama: Linda Hall Daschle is one of the most important aviation lobbyists in town. Ms. Daschle is also the wife of Tom Daschle, whom President-elect Barack Obama has chosen to be the next secretary of health and human services. – NYT, 12-14-08
  • Awwww! Joe Biden gets a new puppy The Vice President-elect’s grandchildren will pick out a name – MSNBC, 12-14-08

Political Quotes

  • Obama’s Night-Before-Christmas Address: “This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child’s face as they open a gift back home.” – NYT, 12-24-08
  • Condoleezza Rice in an interview with AFP, the chief US diplomat conceded that eight years after President George W. Bush came to power, his administration’s popularity was “not very great” in the Arab world. “I understand that a lot of the history between the US and the Arab world is one that Arabs look to as a time of humiliation and of lack of respect. That did not start with President Bush and it will not merely end with President Bush,” she said. …Rice, whose job ends when Bush hands over the presidency to Barack Obama on January 20, predicted the Arabs will change their view of the Bush administration. “Over time I think that the fact that America has stood for the Arab world and for the Arabs to have the same rights and the same ability to live in freedom as we have, that that will ultimately be respected,” Rice said. History will vindicate Bush, she said, by showing that Iraq, in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion, will change the face of the Middle East and will be the first multi-ethnic and multi-confessional democracy in the Arab world. …The war on terror has failed to eliminate Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, but the US-led coalition and Iraq are close to defeating the group’s Iraq branch, she said. – Pam’s House Blend, 12-24-08
  • Cheney says Congress failed struggling automakers on “Fox News Sunday.”: “The president decided specifically that he wanted to try to deal with it and not preside over the collapse of the automobile industry just as he goes out of office.” Lawmakers “had ample opportunity to deal with this issue and they failed. The president had no choice but to step in.”…
    “If you think about what Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War, what FDR did during World War II. They went far beyond anything we’ve done in a global war on terror.”…
    “I’d want to see what they’re going to spend it on. There usually are fairly significant differences between we Republicans and the Democrats on how you stimulate the economy.”
    On Sarah Palin in 2012: “I don’t think she has any kind of lock on that. She’ll have to go out and earn it just as anybody else would have to.”
    On bin Laden: “He’s been holed up in a way where he’s not even been communicating and there are questions about whether or not he’s even running the operation.”
    “It wasn’t my decision to make,” Cheney said of firing Rumsfeld. “The president doesn’t always take my advice.”
    did not regret using an obscenity beginning with “f” in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the Senate floor in June 2004. “I thought he merited it at the time,” Cheney said with a chuckle in the interview. “And we’ve since, I think, patched over that wound and we’re civil to one another now.” – AP, 12-21-08
  • Ill. Gov. Blagojevich pledges to fight, won’t quit: “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong.”…. “I’m not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob.”… “I’m here to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, that I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way.”…. “Merry Christmas, happy holidays.” – AP, 12-19-08
  • Harry Reid: Obama team weighs up to $850 billion economic jolt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that Obama has indicated that Congress will get his recovery recommendations by the first of the year.
    “He’s going to get that to us very quickly, and so we would hope within the first 10 days to two weeks that he’s in office, that is after Jan. 20, that we could pass the stimulus plan. We want to do it very quickly.” – AP, 12-18-08
  • Bush says he didn’t compromise soul to be popular: “Look, everybody likes to be popular.” “What do you expect? We’ve got a major economic problem and I’m the president during the major economic problem. I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don’t approve of the economy. … I’ve been a wartime president. I’ve dealt with two economic recessions now. I’ve had, hell, a lot of serious challenges. What matters to me is I didn’t compromise my soul to be a popular guy.”
    “I’m a free market guy. But I’m not going to let this economy crater in order to preserve the free market system. So we made a lot of very strong moves and it’s been painful for a lot of people, particularly because, you know, this — the excesses of the past have caused a lot of folks to hurt when it comes to, like, their 401(k)’s or, you know, their jobs.”
    “I think the incoming administration’s going to have to fully analyze the risks and the tools and — come to their own conclusion. But one thing’s for certain. I’m confident that President-elect Obama knows that one of his most solemn duties is to protect the American people.”
    “They’re going to have to sort it through in Illinois. Obviously anytime anybody allegedly betrays the public trust there’s got to be great concern because, you know, democracy really is, you know, really rests on the trust of the people. It’s a system of people and by people and for people. And, therefore, the public trust is important.” – AP, 12-18-08
  • Obama chooses Chicago schools chief Ed. Secretary: “When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners. He’s not beholden to any one ideology, and he’s worked tirelessly to improve teacher quality.” – AP, 12-16-08
  • Will deft shoe-dodge improve Bush’s image?: “Everybody calm down please,” he said over his attacker’s shouting from the next room, before a small grin returned to his face. “First of all, thank you for apologizing on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn’t bother me. If you want the facts, it’s a size 10 shoe.” – National Post, 12-15-08
  • McCain on ABC’s “This Week” I can’t promise to support Palin for president”: I can’t say something like that. We’ve got some great other young governors. I think you’re going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party…. The greatest appreciation for Gov. Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign….
    Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability, but at this stage, again … my corpse is still warm, you know?
    I think that the Obama campaign should and will give all information necessary. You know, in all due respect to the Republican National Committee and anybody — right now, I think we should try to be working constructively together, not only on an issue such as this, but on the economy, stimulus package, reforms that are necessary.
    I don’t know all the details of the relationship between President-elect Obama’s campaign or his people and the governor of Illinois. But I have some confidence that all the information will come out. It always does, it seems to me.
    I think my job is, of course, to be a part of, and hopefully exert some leadership, in the loyal opposition. But I emphasize the word loyal. We haven’t seen economic times like this in my lifetime. We haven’t seen challenges abroad at the level that we are experiencing, certainly since the end of the Cold War, and you could argue in some respects that they’re certainly more complex, many of these challenges. So let’s have our first priority where we can work together… Will there be areas of disagreement? Of course. We are different parties and different philosophy. But the nation wants us to unite and work together.
    That would sound like I am detracting from President-elect Obama’s campaign. I don’t want to do that… Nobody likes a sore loser. Get busy and move on. That’s the best cure for it. I spent a period of time feeling sorry for myself. It’s wonderful. It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences that you can have. But the point is: You’ve got to move on… I’m still a senator from the state of Arizona. I still have the privilege and honor of serving this country, which I’ve done all my life, and it’s a great honor to do so. – CNN, 12-14-08

Historians’ Comments

  • David Greenberg ‘Buff’ Obama Images Cause Stir in U.S. David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University who is working on a history of political spin, said no one should be surprised by the latest development. When then-president John F. Kennedy was pictured shirtless, there were media accounts then fretting about the threshold Americns had crossed as a country, he said. “There was John F. Kennedy by the beach, shirt off, this young, glamorous president,” Greenberg said. “So in a way this is 48 years old now that we’re having this.” Since then, Lyndon Johnson lifted his shirt to show reporters his surgery scar and there have been pictures of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in swim trunks.
    “It was kind of an erosion of what had been boundaries of formality between the president and the public,” Greenberg said. “We’ve had ‘boxers and briefs’ and a real acquaintanceship with a personal side, an uninhibited side, an unclothed side of the president.”…
    But such personal shots – dropping the girls off at school, hitting the gym, practising his golf swing – also serve to humanize the president. Greenberg can see why Obama might allow the beach photos to be taken. “I’m sure if he didn’t do it on purpose, he’s not exactly crying in his coffee about it,” he said. “I don’t see any downside.” – AP, 12-24-08
  • James M. McPherson Historian sees lessons, Lincoln parallels for Obama: …Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister during World War I, famously said that “War is too important to be left to the generals.” Lincoln certainly would have agreed with that. What Clemenceau meant is that every activity involved with fighting a war has political consequences, has consequences far beyond the battlefield, has an impact on the entire society and therefore can’t really be decided strictly on military criteria. And I think that Lincoln certainly learned that and that’s something Obama will have to keep in mind. I think he probably is well aware of it, that, for example, whatever decisions he makes about withdrawing troops from Iraq or beefing up troops in Afghanistan don’t take place in a social and cultural and political vacuum. They all have consequences far beyond the battlefield itself.
    Lincoln had the ability to communicate ideas and communicate policy to the average person. He could make things clear, even complicated things clear, to the average person, and I think Obama has that gift, too.
    I think I do. … Lincoln occasionally did lose his temper, but he usually managed to maintain his cool. … This kind of temperament — keeping your cool, keeping your temper, trying to base your decisions on rational thought rather than emotions or temporary explosions of temper — I think they’re similar in that respect and that was a really important factor in Lincoln’s leadership qualities.
    Well yes, it’s almost exhilarating to have a president who reads history, knows history and realizes the value of understanding history. “Pleasure” is the right word. – CNN, 12-23-08
  • E.J. Dionne: Obama team may be more left than it seems: Oh, my: Barack Obama is still more than a month away from assuming the presidency and already there are reports about “the left” being dispirited about change they no longer believe in. These fears — in this case expressed by a rather small number of bloggers and writers — are aggravated by praise for Obama’s transition choices from conservatives who seem relieved the president-elect is neither Lenin nor Robespierre…. This means that parts of the political left will have some differences with Obama over the next four years, but it doesn’t mean that most on the left are already disillusioned with him. Take it from Schlesinger. In his 1960 diary entry he ascribed to Kennedy the view that “especially with a liberal Congress, conservative-appearing men can win more support for liberal measures than all-outers.” Schlesinger added: “Of course, there is something to this argument.” – Newsday, 12-24-08
  • A changing Washington: Obama’s new home was slow to integrate McClatchy Newspapers, 12-24-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama completes cabinet of ‘rivals’ line-up”: “This was one of the more well-organized and well-prepared transitions that we have seen,” Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer said. “Not only has he appointed some very high-quality picks in terms of intellectual capacity and experience, but on key areas — including economics and defense — he has been able to move to the center without alienating his core supporters,” he said. By common consent, Obama has filled his cabinet quickly but also with much thought to ability as he emulates the “team of rivals” assembled by his political hero, Civil War president Abraham Lincoln. AP, 12-19-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Contrasting views of Cheney”: Historian Julian Zelizer calls Vice President Dick Cheney the most influential vice president in history. – Poitico, 12-22-08
  • Michael Beschloss: Obama Cabinet Picks Create Open Senate Seats, and Controversy: As top Democrats move from the U.S. Senate into jobs in President-elect Barack Obama’s White House, the process of filling those Senate seats without elections has, in some instances, led to charges of nepotism or bribery.
    According to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, the process of selecting senators via state legislators bred corruption. “The reason why the 17th Amendment in 1913 changed all that was that the Senate was brought so many cases where people said, ‘This guy became a senator because of bribery and intimidation,’ they felt you needed direct election,” Beschloss told the NewsHour. – PBS Newhour, 12-16-08
  • Gil Troy: Will deft shoe-dodge improve Bush’s image?: According to Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University, Mr. Bush handled the potentially embarrassing situation with a grace that could benefit the way people remember him. “One of the things that he has always had as an advantage as part of his skill set has been a very fluid and smooth physicality,” he said. “At his best, when he’s been most effective, he has been able to use a kind of sheer physical presence and fluidity, the grace of an athlete — and he has the grace of a jogger. I think that helped him in this incident.” – National Post, 12-15-08
  • Elena Razlogova: Will deft shoe-dodge improve Bush’s image?: Elena Razlogova, an assistant professor at Concordia University, surmised in an e-mail from Moscow that regardless of how Mr. Bush reacted to the situation, the damage has been done. “However graceful Bush was, he’ll never live this down,” she wrote. “In Russia, the networks reported on this at length and with glee. I think people everywhere are just happy his presidency is over…. True, Bush did seem to dodge shoes better than reporters’ queries, but throwing a shoe seems so much more pithy and symbolic than a question.” – National Post, 12-15-08
  • Fred Greenstein “Obama faces heady challenges, and they’re growing”: “There’s a lot of ground giving under him. It’s a terrific challenge,” said Fred Greenstein, a Princeton University professor emeritus of politics and a presidential historian.
    “From one perspective, it’s as if he’s about to take over the captain’s job on a sinking ship. From the other perspective, he could be on a glide path to Mount Rushmore if he does a combination of morale building and energizing people while dealing with the economic distress by producing some constructive changes in the society and in the economy.”
    “The striking thing is he doesn’t seem scared,” Greenstein added.
    “Part of what he’s doing is paying lip service to the notion that there’s only one president while sucking up all the oxygen,” Greenstein said. – AP, 12-14-08
  • Gary Mormino: “Fla.’s First Ladies Have Rich History Carole Rome to join unusual cast of characters when marrying Gov. Crist”: One of the earliest intersections of matrimony and politics in Florida comes from 1929, according to historian Gary Mormino, an author and professor at the University of South Florida. The Florida Legislature convened in a special session that year to censure the wife of President Herbert Hoover, Lou Henry Hoover, who had offended state lawmakers by inviting the wife of a black congressman for a White House reception. Mormino said the role of first lady has only recently shifted toward the caretaking of pet causes. The wife of Gov. Spessard Holland had dubious timing with her announcement that she would push for cleaner public restrooms. Mary Holland’s statement was released on Dec. 7, 1941, as Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Ledger, 12-14-08

Post Election News & Analysis: The Obama Presidency

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Election Result Snapshot:

    Google News Results

  • Barack Obama: 364, 53% 64,643,455
  • John McCain: 162, 46% 56,903,815 — 47%
  • Barr 0% 494,102 Nader (I) 1% 667,416
  • Nader 1% 667,416
  • Senate: 35 seats contested
    Democrats: 57, 18 won, +6
    Republicans: 40, 14 won
  • House: 435 seats contested
    Democrats: 254, +20
    Republicans: 173

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama, who went for a morning workout on Thursday in Chicago, plans a news conference on Friday.

The Headlines…

  • Obama speaks with 9 world leaders: President-elect Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers Thursday, returning calls from world leaders who reached out after his presidential victory. – AP, 11-7-08
  • Palin lays low as interview requests pile up: Gov. Sarah Palin hadn’t been back home in Alaska for a full day and her staff had begun fielding requests Thursday for postelection interviews, including from Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and others. AP, 11-7-08
  • Obama’s choice of Emanuel shows switch in tone: Barack Obama is signaling a shift in tactics and temperament as he moves from candidate to president-elect, picking sharp-elbowed Washington insiders for top posts. – AP, 11-6-08
  • Palin gone, anything but forgotten: GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin returned home in defeat to Wasilla, Alaska, on Wednesday night – leaving behind eyebrow-raising tales about towel-clad appearances and internal campaign feuds. – San Francisco Chronicle, 11-6-08
  • Among Democrats’ Leadership Questions: What to Do With Lieberman?: As election returns in Oregon gave Democrats a sixth new seat in the Senate, Democratic leaders on Thursday began to confront some of the crucial personnel questions that would shape the next Congress, including the fate of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut after his ardent backing of Senator John McCain for president. – NYT, 11-6-08
  • Tough Election Leaves GOP In Dire Straits: Politico: Republican Party Seen As Increasingly Out-Dated, In Its Worst Shape Since Rise Of The Conservative Coalition – Politico, 11-6-08
  • Rahm Emanuel Accepts Chief of Staff Post: President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday afternoon that he selected Representative Rahm Emanuel, a fierce and consummate navigator of the capital’s political terrain, as his chief of staff because he has “deep insights into the challenging economic issues that will be front and center for our administration.” – NYT, 11-6-08
  • Bush Wants to Ensure a Smooth Transfer to Obama: President Bush and Barack Obama on Monday will hold their first substantive talks about the nation’s daunting priorities as the transition to a Democratic administration accelerates. Bush, soon to return to Texas after two terms in office, ordered employees on Thursday to ensure a smooth transfer of power to Obama. The transition is a delicate dance in which the White House keeps the president-elect in the loop, and even solicits his input, but the decisions remain solely the president’s. – AP, 11-6-08
  • Breaking Down Obama’s Cabinet Contenders As Obama Prepares To Fill Key Cabinet Roles, CBSNews.com Looks At The Names Generating The Most Buzz In Washington – CBS News, 11-6-08
  • Obama Unveils Presidential Transition Team As Congratulations Pour In, President-Elect Begins Process To Build Cabinet To Help Deal With Challenges At Home And Abroad: President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday announced that his presidential transition team will be led by John Podesta, who served as chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, campaign advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse, who has been Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate. CBS/AP, 11-5-08
  • Obama picks Clinton alum Emanuel chief of WH staff: President-elect Barack Obama pivoted quickly to begin filling out his new administration on Wednesday, selecting hard-charging Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff while aides stepped up the pace of transition work that had been cloaked in pre-election secrecy. – AP, 11-5-08
  • Obama aims for smooth transition: Democrat Barack Obama put aside the victory celebrations on Wednesday and began crafting a White House team to help him lead a country mired in a deep economic crisis and two lingering … Reuters, 11-5-08
  • Great expectations: Obama will have to deliver: Over and over, Barack Obama told voters if they stuck with him “we will change this country and change the world.” They did, and now their expectations for him to deliver are firmly planted on his shoulders. Many supporters greeted his victory with euphoria. – AP, 11-5-08
  • McCain starts mapping out a new role in the Senate: Before resting from the grueling presidential race, John McCain began discussing with senior aides what role he will play in the Senate now that he has promised to work with the man who defeated him for president. One obvious focus will be the war in Iraq. After two years spent more on the campaign than in the Senate, McCain will return as the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. – AP, 11-5-08
  • Minnesota Senate race heads into automatic recount: A slugfest for nearly two years, Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race headed into a new round Wednesday as the campaigns girded for an automatic statewide recount to determine whether Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s bare lead over Democratic challenger Al Franken would stand. – AP, 11-5-08
  • Daley celebrates a peaceful rally GRANT PARK | ‘It was a homecoming … a baptism’ – Chicago Sun-Times, 11-6-08
  • World reaction to Obama victory: Elation – LA Times, 11-6-08

With Mrs. Laura Bush, the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney and Cabinet secretaries looking on, President George W. Bush addresses his staff Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, on the South Lawn of the White House. Said the President, "As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line." White House photo by Eric Draper

With Mrs. Laura Bush, the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney and Cabinet secretaries looking on, President George W. Bush addresses his staff Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, on the South Lawn of the White House. Said the President, “As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line.” White House photo by Eric Draper

Political Quotes

  • President-Elect Barack Obama: I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda. And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel.
    Michelle and I look forward to meeting with President Bush and the First Lady on Monday to begin the process of a smooth, effective transition. I thank him for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship.”
  • Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff, Obama Administration: Now is a time for unity. I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose….
    Like the record amount of voters who cast their ballot over the last month, I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs. We have work to do, and Tuesday Americans sent Washington a clear message — get the job done.
    I want to say a special word about my Republican colleagues, who serve with dignity, decency and a deep sense of patriotism. We often disagree, but I respect their motives. Now is a time for unity, and Mr. President-elect, I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose.
  • Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: With the selection of Rahm Emanuel [as White House Chief of Staff] I think Sen. Obama is sending a strong signal of partisanship. He’s a hardball player if there ever was one. That doesn’t say much to me about this ‘post-partisan’ presidency.’
  • The House minority leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said in a statement: This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil and govern from the center.
  • President George W. Bush: Earlier this year, I promised that I would sprint to the finish. I am keeping that promise, and I know I have given some of you a good workout along the way. As we head into this final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line.
    We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in. This will also be America’s first wartime transition in four decades.

Historians’ Comments

  • David Greenberg “Landslide? Not Exactly: While 2008 represents an unmistakable repudiation of contemporary conservatism, Obama didn’t redraw the electoral map.
    The advent of America’s first black president inexorably calls forth the word historic. Uttered so frequently last evening, as it will be in the days ahead, the adjective would have been drained of meaning but for the palpable momentousness of Barack Obama’s election. Gone was the pretense of post-racialism; revealed was liberal America’s pride in the often-unsung progress toward equality and toleration achieved in the civil rights movement’s aftermath…. TheDailyBeast.com, 11-5-08
  • Alonzo Hamby “President-Elect and Champion Campaigner Obama”:
    ….Yet I am struck that so many different people see different Obamas….
    From my point of view, the transformation of the Daley organization into a 60s Popular Front, with room for Weathermen bombers, old Black Panthers, and Israel-haters are revelatory of the moral confusion of post-Vietnam American liberalism.
    Who IS the real BHO? I’m damned if I know, but I feel that I can only take him and his record at face value. No one can deny, however, that he ran a helluva of a campaign and is as charismatic a figure as we’ve seen in American politics for a long time. Let’s hope for the best. HNN, POTUS Blog, 11-5-08
  • Gil Troy “The Obama-McCain “Return Night” Reconciliation: Lasting Hope or Fleeting Moment?”:
    On Thursday, in Georgetown, Delaware, the losing and winning candidates from the various contests around that state will assemble for Return Day. In a ritual tracing its roots to 1791, voters and politicians will hear the official electoral returns and make nice, no matter how bitter their campaigns may have been. In addition to parading together down the main street in antique automobiles, the rivals will bury a ceremonial tomahawk, quite literally burying the hatchet. Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain mounted their own version of this reconciliation ritual, offering a magnificent display of the grace, civility, and patriotism that could heal America, even during these painful times. – HNN, 11-5-08
  • Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph Historians Answered Your Questions on Obama’s Win, 2008 Campaign:
    Sen. Barack Obama will become the country’s first black leader after a campaign season that broke records and saw female candidates break new ground. Historians Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph answered your questions on this historic election. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, University of New Hampshire “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    I think it’s an incredible moment in the history of this country, one of the more important moments we have seen ever.
    And that is because this election has resolved a moral contradiction that runs through the interstices of our history from its very founding.
    The founders were not able to deal with the issue of slavery and created a republic based on a set of values and beliefs that were denied to African-Americans through more than two centuries.
    And through segregation, after the Civil War, it was followed by segregation, the Jim Crow laws. And that moment — I think we’ve put a punctuation mark on a very important and rather shameful chapter….
    PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    Well, certainly I think we all agree at this roundtable that this election shows the evolution of American democracy. As historians, we realize that that evolution is not always a linear progression.
    So during the reconstruction era, for instance, we had the first generation of black elected officials, and then that time ended because of Jim Crow segregation. The civil rights movement became a second reconstruction, so to speak.
    And now, 40 years later, I think many African-Americans are thinking of this as a potential third reconstruction. But white Americans and Latinos have joined them, as well, so this really speaks to the potential, in terms of democratic progression for the nation. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    You know, 50 years later, we don’t think of John F. Kennedy — the first thing that comes to mind is not the first Catholic president.
    Clearly, it loomed much larger in November 1960 than it does 50 years later. And if 50 years from now, the most important thing about Barack Obama was his race, that would give me real pause, and it would suggest that his presidency, which ultimately is going to be about other things than race, was less than successful. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: “An ‘evolution’ of U.S. democracy”:
    And, you know, in a way, that is what happens when there is success in breaking a barrier.
    You know, one reason we don’t think of John Kennedy so much as a Catholic is because, by breaking the barrier, people didn’t notice those things anymore.
    The second Catholic on a national ticket after Kennedy was William Miller, on with Barry Goldwater in 1964. No one even mentioned it, you know? And I think that will happen, the same thing with the second African- American on a national ticket after Barack Obama. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK “Hopes and concerns”:
    I think what we’re seeing is a tremendous feeling on the part of the public that what they responded to was the sense of hope that was being offered.
    This was ridiculed at times in the campaign. But every social movement that has amounted to anything in American history was based on that kind of idealism and some powerful leadership, a figure, as well, that the greatest ones have been trans-historical, who were able to capture that mood and articulate it.
    And the shifting of generations evokes 1960, as well. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “Hopes and concerns”:
    Franklin Roosevelt once said that, since our founding, we have been engaged in a permanent peaceful revolution, a revolution that he defined as being all about, ultimately, democratic inclusiveness. And that’s very much a part of the essentially optimistic, hopeful nature of the American people.
    I was struck by those comments. And last night, people feel good. People could have been very angry in this campaign, and certainly there was anger.
    But, you know, Barack Obama notably did not run as an angry candidate. Reagan-esque style, he really did appeal to our sense of possibility. Maybe not optimism, because it’s a tough time to be optimistic, but he clearly laid the groundwork for, in effect, a unity government after a period of considerable division. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH “Obama’s challenges ahead”:
    Well, I think domestically we have to go back to FDR. And FDR talked about freedom from fear in 1932, freedom from want, talked about a new social contract with the body politic.
    Certainly. And by 1940, we were faced on the eve of the Second World War, at least the United States’ involvement in that conflict.
    Certainly, in 1960, John Kennedy faced a changing world within the midst of the Cold War, but I think what Obama is facing is unprecedented in a way. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS “Obama’s challenges ahead”:
    Well, you know, another part of this is that, you know, a political scientist would say we had a lot of the ingredients yesterday for high turnout, high intensity: two candidates with big differences on the major issues; and also an election where we really are at a crossroads on economic policy, social issues, national security.
    But I must say I must have been too jaded, because I would have said probably — and I would have been wrong 48 hours ago — that, you know, people have a sense that the system isn’t working and they won’t turn out in those numbers, numbers that approach 1908, 1960, years of very high turnout.
    But the other thing is that, you know, look at Obama. You were talking about optimism and hope. Look what kind of a leader he is.
    There was a potential in the last two months for a demagogue of the kind of Huey Long of Louisiana, to just start an angry campaign, “These horrible people on Wall Street are stealing your money, and the government is paying them off, and why are oil prices so high, and arms merchants got us into a war in Iraq, and oil, and all this stuff.”
    A leader could have gone very far with that kind of an angry appeal; none of that with Obama.
    So the result is that, elected as he is by a decent margin, he’s coming in with an appeal that is almost entirely positive. And I think that says very good things about this country. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “Obama’s challenges ahead”:
    Well, not only positive, but almost post-ideological. I mean, the really remarkable thing, here is someone who in many ways — let’s face it — is a product of the civil rights revolution, who is a product of the ’60s.
    Certainly a beneficiary, absolutely, but who was very much a product of those times, and yet who’s been very explicit in making clear his desire to turn the page on our unhealthy, cultural obsession with the 1960s. And in a sense, he’s almost a post-boomer president. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH “History’s lessons on expectations”:
    Well, I think the Obama campaign has talked about the first 100 days and reading books about FDR’s first 100 days to see how he would respond if he gets into the White House.
    I think when we look at somebody like Bill Clinton, there were high expectations, and the first year was kind of rocky. He got caught up in gays in the military and Whitewater instead of policy implications.
    So in terms of managing expectations, I think it’s going to be difficult, based on the 63 million votes — this is the most in American history — but based on the campaign and the discipline of his campaign, I think he’ll be able to manage it….
    Well, the 63 million for a Democrat. This is the most a victor has gotten in American history. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS “History’s lessons on expectations”: A blessing because he can call on those people and say, “You elected me to do A, and B, and C. I’m asking you for sacrifices that may be required to achieve those things. You people have to come among with me on that.”
    But, you know, here, again, Obama benefits from having read history. In that speech last night, he said, “You know, I may not do everything in my first year or even my first term.” You sort of think that he may have read John Kennedy’s inaugural, where he said, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days, 1,000 days, life of this administration.”
    Occasionally it does really help when a president has read some history. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “History’s lessons on expectations”: And echoes of Dr. King. “We may not get there.”…
    Well, I mean, the classic — I mean, Herbert Hoover went into office the most popular man in the country, deemed to be an economic wizard.
    That didn’t — that didn’t sustain itself….
    But what I believe, the inauguration, this is going to be the most exciting inauguration since Andrew Jackson. And the irony is, you know, Jackson ushered in a new era of, quote, “democracy,” very limited. It included basically white men.
    But, nevertheless, it was a profound shift from the well-bred and well-read who had governed the nation before Jackson.
    They had enormous expectations. They formed an army, a new politically potent army, and he sustained that, and he transformed the party, and he transformed the country.
    That’s a tall order. But, clearly, there was that same sense of excitement. And I think, in this case, it transcends narrowly partisan loyalties.
    As I say, there’s a real feeling in this country today of almost universal pride. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK “History’s lessons on expectations”: I think that every president has a difficult job sustaining the momentum and meeting the expectations. But the great presidents rise to their historical moment.
    It may be a terrible moment. It may be a war; it may be a horrible depression. But the public, I think, is chastened. They understand what we’re up against, and they’re looking for leadership.
    If they provide leadership, even if they don’t have all the answers and the solutions, that will carry them. – PBS Newshour, 11-5-08
  • David Greenberg: McCain Ran the Sleaziest Campaign in History?: ….But unlike those exaggerations, the line about McCain threatens to stain a man’s name for history. And when viewed without partisan blinders or presentist lenses, the charge doesn’t hold up. Indeed, it says more about today’s political culture, which has grown unusually high-minded, and the emotions that Americans invest in presidential elections, which are unfailingly intense, than it does about McCain himself…. – Slate, 11-5-08
  • Allan Lichtman, presidential historian, American University “Latest : Historic win, Canada AM”: Allan Lichtman gives us his reaction to last night’s historic win. He also provides analysis of Obama’s election campaign strategy and the future of American politics – CTV, 11-5-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University “Political History Takes New Course in ’08 Election”: Oh, sure. There’s the history you make for the first time and there’s the history that you revisit.
    Clearly, in terms of what is unprecedented, the headline about this is, come January, we will have our first African-American president or our first female vice president. That’s the headline. And it’s a pretty impressive headline.
    Beyond that headline, however, when you begin to ask what is motivating people, in terms of voting, I think you can look at a number of elections in the past which are basically about the economy. And I think, for the last six weeks, that’s certainly been what has been driving this more than anything else.
    It feels a lot like 1980, when there was clearly a desire on the part of most people for something other than the status quo, but the challenger, Ronald Reagan, had to convince a majority of the country that he represented a safe alternative to the status quo. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University “Political History Takes New Course in ’08 Election”:
    Certainly. The idea that the United States, 43 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, could actually have a major party nominee be an African-American is extraordinary and unprecedented.
    After signing the Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965, Lyndon Johnson famously said that he was giving away the South, basically, for a generation. And except for a blip in 1976, when Carter won every southern state except for Virginia, that’s basically held true in two-person presidential elections.
    So the idea that an African-American, as all polls suggest, may become the next president is certainly historic and unprecedented. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian “Political History Takes New Course in ’08 Election”:
    Once, yes, but it hasn’t been enough. You know, I mean, first of all, it shouldn’t have taken until 1920 nor should it have taken until the end of the Civil War for African-Americans to get the vote.
    Our founders were terrific, but this is a good night to remember, as wonderful as we think they are and admire them for all sorts of reasons, these were people who did not consider African-Americans fully human, considered them mainly slaves, and also never conceived of the idea that women would be an important part of our political culture.
    This night is a triumph in those terms, too. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH “Parallels to the ’30s”:
    Well, the difference, of course, is that you had this slow-motion train wreck. I mean, you’d had three years in which the American people had been marinated in despair. And, basically, millions of them had given up hopes.
    They had lost their homes; they’d lost their jobs. And they were un-American, in the sense that they had lost that most American sense of optimism, that the future is our friend.
    So Franklin Roosevelt, who, by the way, as you know, was written off by a lot of journalists and would-be pundits in the ’32 campaign as an amiable lightweight, nevertheless won simply because he wasn’t Herbert Hoover.
    And the fact that he promised an experimental, innovative kind of government to a people who were tired of a government that appeared frozen in indifference, the difference, of course, is now — to be sure, people all year long have been saying the economy is the number-one issue, but it’s only in the last six weeks that there’s a sense of panic about the future….
    Yes, what happened in 1980 was people — Americans always believe the future is going to be better than the present. In 1980, there was a disconnect. People questioned that. And that was made-to-order for Ronald Reagan. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS “Parallels to the ’30s”:
    I think ’32 will do, because, you know, ’32 was, as Richard is saying, as we’ve suggested, a huge economic problem. But the thing about this year is we’re not just at a fork in the road on our economic system. We’re at a fork in the road also on national security. That rarely happens.
    ’32 was a big economic election; 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was running against Wendell Willkie, who was saying, “Don’t help the British. Let’s stay out of what would become World War II.” Now you’ve got a time when both of these issues are combined in one year.
    You know, all of us, I think, as historians tend to think that you can only see something as historic in retrospect, but anyone tonight who’s going to say that the next president is not going to have an enormous effect over how this country changes on both of those fronts I think is kidding themselves. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08PBS Newshour, 11-4-08

Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman is not sure which direction he is going in the Senate leadership.

%d bloggers like this: