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Author Topic: The Obama White House
Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Amen.

I want to see who gets picked for Secretary of Education. I can't even find speculation more recent than 3 weeks ago.

I read somewhere that he's actually considering Chancellor Rhee from DC, but I've seen absolutely nothing to corroborate even suspicions that he might be considering doing so, and I can't even imagine the furor that doing so would create with the teachers unions. I've also seen The Governator's name in contention for the post, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and he wouldn't say yes anyway, so it's a moot point.

He seems to be focusing right now on the names that are most important to the issues he campaigned on: Economy, National Security, Energy and Healthcare. Education isn't nothing, and we'll probably get word on that by Christmas or so, but it's not top of the pack priority. I'd probably put it in the second tier, but still well above a lot of other posts.

Ron -

Gates' job as SecDef will likely be temporary, only for a year or two at most, and it has nothing to do with "knowing where the bodies are buried." If that's all it took, Rummy would still be around. Gates is there for a multitude of reasons, ranging from the fact that putting a hawk in front of dovish looking policies helps to sell them (much like Bush did in putting Powell in front of an Iraq War plan, only reversed). Gates agrees more with Obama on negotiation with Iran versus saber rattling. When you combine him with a more hawkish looking Hillary Clinton, who has cultivated a record as a Democratic hawk, and even Rahm Emmanuel as it related to Israel/Palestine policy, you have an Obama Administration that can push new ideas using proxies that won't be accused of being patsies for those ideas. Having new ideas come from proponents of the old ideas, or at least the camps of those who came up with them, helps lend them credence.

Plus he's a Republican, which sates the call for bi-partisanship for the sake of bi-partisanship. Plus the guy is well liked all over Capitol Hill and has a lot more credibility with the public on Middle Eastern war issues. Plus Obama worked well with him when he was a senator.

If Obama can get Clinton, Gates, and other wide ranging members of his national security team in place and keep them in line selling his new ideas, then it could turn out remarkably well. If they follow their own agendas and Obama has trouble reining them in, he'll have screwed up his foreign policy agenda for a couple years. There's always a risk in picking team members from the opposing camp to sell your own ideas, but there's also a lot of reward to be won in the risk if it works out well. During the campaign we saw an Obama that worked remarkably well at managing people, and often times people with far more experience than he in specific policy areas and in national politics. His campaign was the "no drama" campaign, to be easily contrasted with the clusterfrick of personalities and agendas that sunk Hillary Clinton's campaign. If he's the same kind of CEO of the country as he was of the campaign, then I think many of these choices will serve him very well, and he (and us) will be well rewarded for it.

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rivka
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I've seen a few articles, but they're all rewarmed speculation. [Wink]

Meanwhile, the transition team requested a list of priorities from NASFAA. If the new Secretary of Education can push through most of those, I'd sure be happy!

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BannaOj
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So what do we think of the Energy Secretary?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/10/AR2008121003681.html?hpid=topnews

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Noemon
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He sounds like a fantastic choice, from what I've read.
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Lyrhawn
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Well, a lot of people here and elsewhere were clamoring for Obama to appoint professionals (scientists etc) to posts, and it looks like that's exactly what he's done.

My only concern is that his undersecretaries be policy wonks and administrative veterans. Given the prominance energy policy is going to take under this administration, and the amount of wrangling the department will have to do with Congress, I fear that having a non-politico who doesn't know the ropes might hamper his efforts. His appointment is a great idea in a number of ways, I just want to make sure that his good ideas and plans don't get bogged down because he doesn't understand the process as well as an insider might.

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Noemon
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I agree that that is something to be considered generally when making appointments like this, but in this instance I think that Obama did a remarkable job of finding someone who is both an accomplished scientist and an able administrator. His experience as head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has to mean that he knows how to deal with bureaucracy. The more I read, the more inspired I think the choice is.
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Samprimary
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I am ecstatic that obama is selecting Steven as energy secretary though it does make my life a .. uh, bit more complicated.
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Lisa
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Why?
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Noemon
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Maybe he's really Steven.
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rivka
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Or his co-worker.
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Tarrsk
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Or his evil twin brother.
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Lyrhawn
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Word on the street is Caroline Kennedy is angling for Clinton's senate seat. She has reportedly spoken with Gov. Patterson about the position and has made it known that she is interested in it. There are a large number of big names in the state that are considered up for the job however, making the Kennedy brand a contender, but not a shoe-in.

Also interesting, if she were to be appointed, it would mean every 1 in 25 senate seats was held by two families, the Kennedys and Udalls (who would have actually had 3 in the Senate if Merkley hadn't beat Smith, who was a distant cousin in Oregon).

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BannaOj
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http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2008/12/obama-names-salazar-interior-secretary.html

Senator Salazar interior secretary. He's really cleaning out the senate with his appointments. It is kind of bothering me. What is "normal" for an administration?

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Lyrhawn
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I'm not sure what his record is on interior issues, but on the surface it seems he has a decent rep. I'll have to delve into this one to see how he is, and how he fits into Obama's larger environmental team.

But as far as robbing the Senate goes, it might not have been a horrible choice. I know it looks like he is raiding the cookie jar pretty heavily, but a lot of his picks aren't that bad. Clinton is trouble actually, because if Giuliani runs in 2010, it could mean a real point of contention, whereas Clinton likely would have kept him in check, most of the Democrats who are in contention are unknown quantities, and it's questionable whether or not Patterson will make his choice dependent on who has the best chance to retain the seat. Caroline Kennedy at the least will be able to raise large sums of money, which will be necessary to beat the GOP contender in 2 years.

Biden out of Deleware isn't a big deal, it's basically a handoff to his son in two years with a placeholder to take the seat until then. Beau will likely win the seat handily when he comes back from Iraq. Illinois is going to be a clusterfrick, but that isn't Obama's fault. In Colorado, Salazar was actually shaping up to be a troubled hold for the Democrats. He's facing strong potential contenders from the GOP, though many expected him to hold onto the seat. Obama may have felt that a state he won handily in the election would be an easy save in two years with a new senator from the Dems.

Janet Nepolitano was considered the only hope the Dems had to steal the Senate seat there from McCain. She's very popular and was the only one really even in contention. Her appointment likely puts the seat solidly in the GOP camp.

One could argue that these are savvy appointments of people who know their issues well, have relationships with other lawmakers on the hill, many of whom are from a different generation of Democrats than the last, and who will be more effective in getting policy ideas turned into law. He's willing to raid the cookie jar if it gets him the most effective administration possible, and given his hiring savvy for his election team, he has good credentials in that regard.

2010 was looking like a strong year for Democrats in many ways, and Dems already have a large lead in the Senate, so it's possible that Obama felt the Dems could absorb the losses. And he might be right. So much depends on what Democrats actually have to run on in 2010. He's putting a LOT of pressure on himself to perform well.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:

Also interesting, if she were to be appointed, it would mean every 1 in 25 senate seats was held by two families, the Kennedys and Udalls (who would have actually had 3 in the Senate if Merkley hadn't beat Smith, who was a distant cousin in Oregon).

That's a rather ham-fisted statistical pretzel. That's like saying my grandmother's mother on my father's side- her mother was a quarter native American. There was a similar line on the Sopranos, where you had to sit there going, wait... he's a 64th or a 128th?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:

2010 was looking like a strong year for Democrats in many ways, and Dems already have a large lead in the Senate, so it's possible that Obama felt the Dems could absorb the losses. And he might be right. So much depends on what Democrats actually have to run on in 2010. He's putting a LOT of pressure on himself to perform well.

He has yet to give a single indication that he can't handle that pressure. I mean, really, how likely is it that everything he's done so well so far doesn't bode well for his actual performance upon ascending to President? If anything, the sheer gravitas he's accumulated will carry him even if he does make big mistakes- which I don't honestly think he will. He doesn't strike me as the kind of leader who lets a little mistake become a big one.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Also interesting, if she were to be appointed, it would mean every 1 in 25 senate seats was held by two families, the Kennedys and Udalls (who would have actually had 3 in the Senate if Merkley hadn't beat Smith, who was a distant cousin in Oregon).

So, that would be two families that each have two members of their family in the Senate.
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Lyrhawn
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Yeah. I didn't say it was calculus, it's just interesting. Considering the millions of American families, I find it interesting that any single family could or would have more than one member in a government body like the US Senate, and that two families could each have two is even more unlikely and interesting.

quote:
That's a rather ham-fisted statistical pretzel. That's like saying my grandmother's mother on my father's side- her mother was a quarter native American. There was a similar line on the Sopranos, where you had to sit there going, wait... he's a 64th or a 128th?
Actually it's like saying the Udalls are cousins and the Kennedys would be uncle and niece. Those aren't dramatically far removed relations. It's all within a generation. If Smith was still in the Senate, it'd be a little more distant.

quote:
He has yet to give a single indication that he can't handle that pressure. I mean, really, how likely is it that everything he's done so well so far doesn't bode well for his actual performance upon ascending to President? If anything, the sheer gravitas he's accumulated will carry him even if he does make big mistakes- which I don't honestly think he will. He doesn't strike me as the kind of leader who lets a little mistake become a big one.
I never voiced an opinion on whether or not I thought he'd succeed. I was just framing the issue. I'm as excited about him as anyone, but I'm also not willing to totally forget some of the mistakes and compromises that he HAS made. Is he only impressive because he's the best Democrat we've seen in a long time, or is he good independent of that? Not sure yet.
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rivka
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Education Secretary chosen
quote:
President-elect Barack Obama will pick Arne Duncan, a longtime friend who leads Chicago’s public-school system, as his education secretary, Democratic party sources said.

Mr. Obama’s choice of Mr. Duncan may signal the president-elect’s support for approaches to education policy pressed by advocates of deep structural change in elementary and secondary education. It is less clear what the selection might mean for higher education.

Hard to tell what this means.
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Lyrhawn
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I can't get in to read the article, but TIME has one as well on Duncan.

It looks like he's some sort of middle of the road reformer that straddles the divide between status quo hardliner and Michelle Rhee radical. If you do any further reading rivka, I'd be interested to hear your opinion of Duncan when you're finished forming one.

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Humean316
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Obama picks Vilsack as Ag Sec.

I think one thing is clear with the picks Obama is making, he is trying to bring together people in order to get things done. A while back, someone called Obama a pragmatic incrementalist, and I think that's an apt description here both with the Vilsack pick and the Duncan pick.

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Lyrhawn
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I worry about that choice though. Vilsack spent his time in the Senate defending massive giveaway Ag bills that are a huge waste of money to prop up major agrobusinesses who got a vast majority of the money while small farms still struggle and get edged out. I was hoping Obama might cut down on some of that, and putting the guy in charge of the Ag Department who was in the thick of it is not a good sign to me. But maybe he'll just his use knowledge of the industry to implement a different policy. I can hope.

His appointment, like so many others, also has Senate implications. Vilsack was seen by many as the best chance the Dems had to recapture the seat that's up in 2010 in Iowa. They might be back to square one.

I'm not sure if it's significant or if my knowledge has just expanded, but it seems like he's picking a lot of really big names for a lot of posts. I recognize well over half the people he's chosen thus far. More so than Bush did anyway.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
If you do any further reading rivka, I'd be interested to hear your opinion of Duncan when you're finished forming one.

At this point, anything in higher education (where most of my subscriptions focus) is going to be pretty speculative.

Ask me in a year. [Wink]

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rivka
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Today's Chronicle had a follow-up article. (Sorry, still subscribers only.)

This sounds hopeful:
quote:
The choice met with virtually unanimous acclaim, even among Republicans and teachers'-union leaders who chafed at some of Mr. Duncan’s plans to overhaul Chicago's schools but have said they appreciated the respect he showed them in the process of finding compromise.

National higher-education leaders joined in the praise, saying they hoped Mr. Duncan’s record in Chicago of emphasizing cooperation over confrontation will also characterize his relations with colleges when he gets to Washington.

“He demonstrated effective leadership at the K-through-12 level and has a clear appreciation for, and connection to, higher education,” said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “So it just seems to me that it’s a great choice.”


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Samprimary
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quote:
In Colorado, Salazar was actually shaping up to be a troubled hold for the Democrats. He's facing strong potential contenders from the GOP, though many expected him to hold onto the seat. Obama may have felt that a state he won handily in the election would be an easy save in two years with a new senator from the Dems.
The colorado gop is actually ecstatic over the salazar appointment because it provides them a remote chance to beat an appointment over an expected 'snowball in hell' chance of toppling one of the salazar bros.
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Lyrhawn
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I guess I need to read different political gossip. Or at least more varieties of it.
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Samprimary
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sauce on that last one:

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/dec/16/gop-eyes-salazars-senate-seat-2010/

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kmbboots
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So far, the "appointment" I am most unhappy about is this one.

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/12/18/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry4675325.shtml

And it is more symbol than substance. Still, symbol counts.

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Strider
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i'm with you.
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Dagonee
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I'm impressed that he's making such visible efforts to reach across partisan boundaries.
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dkw
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quote:
"Warren represents the absolute worst of the Democrats' religious outreach, a right-winger masquerading as a do-gooder anointed as the arbiter of what it means to be faithful," she added.
Wow. I wasn't aware that giving the invocation at the inauguration confered that power.
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kmbboots
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It doesn't confer power, but it does send a message. I understand the impetus to reach out, but it is unfortunate that by extending a hand to social conservatives, President-elect Obama is giving the back of his hand to the gay community.
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Lyrhawn
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Putting him up there isn't an endorsement of everything the man stands for.

We'll never achieve any sort of meaningful bi-partisan spirit in good faith if every attempt to reach across the aisle is construed as a total acceptance of EVERYTHING the other side stands for and promotes.

I suspect that by the time Obama's first term in office is over, the gay community won't have much to complain about.

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kmbboots
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I believe that you're right about that. I think that that Pres.Elect Obama will do better than this would signal. This is still very disappointing.
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Lyrhawn
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Maybe.

It's impossible to make everyone happy with 100% of his choices. There are too many competing interests, and anything he does is going to piss of SOMEONE even while it greatly pleases someone else. From what I can tell, all of my major issues have been given big welcoming boosts by the people he has chosen to oversee their advocation. I'm rather thrilled with a great deal of his moves.

On some things of lesser importance I'm a litle hesitant to throw my enthusiasm behind his appointments, but it's really about perspective. He's signaling his intention to fulfill a great many of his campaign promises, maybe on a scale we haven't seen in decades. So if a couple things he does, that are mostly symbolic anyway, aren't totally up to snuff to the left wing, then I'm okay with that if it means sating the right in order to grease the skids later on.

And I don't just mean that in the "it's good politics" way. I also mean that it'd be nice to have a president that felt it was worthwhile to reach out to the other side, even if it annoyed his base, because he felt bringing the country just a little closer together was more valuable than political capital. That'd likely gain him political capital anyway, but it's rarely a blank check.

Maybe less than this specific issue, it's a sign that the hostility we've seen in the last eight years on BOTH sides to competing points of view is going to be tamped down and actively dissuaded in the next four, even if Obama has to bring BOTH sides with him grumbling all the way.

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Humean316
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quote:
I think that that Pres.Elect Obama will do better than this would signal. This is still very disappointing.
I cannot say that I know the anger some feel as a homosexual because I simply don't have those shoes, and yet, I do know that many in this country feel the same as Rick Warren. They do have those shoes, and if we really are going to bring this country together, we cannot do so by leaving such a large portion of the country behind. The same argument applies to, say, those who supported the war in Iraq and even those in the 28% who think Bush has done a wonderful job--coming together does not mean that we leave large portions of the country behind. In fact, that is how George Bush governed, he governed to the people who agreed with him, his version of togetherness meant that he was right and everyone should come around to his view of the world, but that's not truly how it works.

Some will argue that Obama provides legitimacy to the views of Rick Warren by giving him such a position, and yet, I would imagine that the millions and millions of Americans who agree with Pastor Warren provide that legitimacy anyway. But let's say that Obama is incorrect by giving a forum to those we disagree with, does that mean that he must do the same on every issue? Does that mean that those who disagree with us on abortion or capital punishment or illegal immigration should not be given a voice either? See, that's the problem with excluding someone when your goal is to bring people together, the question then becomes whether you are any better than the guy who came before.

The failure, both on our part and Obama's, lies not in our exclusion of those we disagree with, though that is important, but in our inability to accurately and effectively communicate our own ideals. In other words, I don't care who you are, you are a human being, and if we are truly going to come together as a better race of human beings, if humanity is going to improve, then I dare say that we cannot do so by ridding ourselves of those who are wrong.

Even though I strongly disagree with Rick Warren on nearly every issue, I have no problem, and in fact applaud, Obama's decision here. I do think it will matter what happens after this though, and if this is something that could be used to start a "real" dialogue about homosexual issues and religious politics, then I think it could be a wonderfully productive move.

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rivka
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Well said.
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aspectre
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Richardson out of nomination to Secretary of Commerce.
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Lyrhawn
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Sucks that he's getting hit with some of the same accusations as Blagovich, as it looks like very, very different circumstances. But Obama's statement was unusually strong given the taint of a federal investigation. Usually presidents or governors treat people under investigation as if they were radioactive. Obama knew about this investigation before he nominated him, which actually makes me wonder if Richardson really withdrew his name with no prompting or if Obama asked him to.

Either way, his statement was strong, and it looks like he really expected to have Richardson in the White House working for him at some point, and I hope he does. I think Richardson is a genuinely good guy, and a good public official, and I'd like him in charge of something, something other than New Mexico anyway.

It would seem that events are conspiring to give Obama a larger number of obstacles during his transition than he could have imagined when he first decided to run. Scandals, economic meltdown, trouble in the middle east and elsewhere, it's certainly not a milk run.

But like some have been saying, this gives Obama a chance to appoint someone to Commerce Secretary now to shut up some of his naysayers. There've been a lot of complaints about his appointments, and he might be able to sate those people by appointing one of their candidates to the spot.

There's a lot of continuing news out of Minnesota and Illinois if anyone is interested in the problems with the Senate candidates there. And Colorado's governor announced a replacement for Ken Salazar.

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aspectre
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_-aA_F_BMM
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DarkKnight
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This is an interesting short article:
Study: Obama's revolutionary small donor base a canard
quote:
Despite lofty narratives released by his campaign to the contrary, president-elect Barack Obama received about the same amount of money from small donors as George W. Bush did in 2004, according to a new study.
quote:
The descrepancy between the figures is that many of those $200-or-smaller donors gave repeatedly, an act which disqualifies them from being included in the small-donor category.

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TomDavidson
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I'm not sure that's necessarily a "canard." If multiple small donors made enough small donations to no longer be considered small donors, that doesn't really mean he has fewer small donors; it means he did a great job converting small donors into large donors.

The charitable way to interpret this data is that "regular people" gave more to Obama than they normally would. The uncharitable way is that "fat cats" donated tiny chunks to inflate the "small donation" totals.

Personally, I think the former is far more likely. I know a number of people in both categories, and it has certainly been my anecdotal experience that Obama managed to get donations from people who'd never donated before, managed to get people who'd previously only donated small amounts to -- in the long run -- donate quite a lot, and didn't approach wealthy donors any more often than was typical.

You could analyze the rolls to determine which of these effects held sway by comparing percentages of income donated over the last few campaigns, broken down by income categories.

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Xavier
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quote:
The descrepancy between the figures is that many of those $200-or-smaller donors gave repeatedly, an act which disqualifies them from being included in the small-donor category.
I gave $50 to him twice. That statement seems to imply that I would be excluded, even though both of my contributions together would still be less than $200.
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kmbboots
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I donated for the first time to a campaign. $25 dollars several times. (I don't recall how many exactly.) Not enough to make me a large donor.
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Lyrhawn
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I donated twice as well, two $25 donations, which were my first donations to a campaign.
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The Rabbit
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According to the rules, none of you are small donors.

How does it feel to be a Fat Cat?

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fugu13
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I think the cutoff is just a total of $200 or less, and it was clumsily explained. That is, Obama received far more donations of less than $200, but many of them were by the same people, meaning the number of donors that gave less than $200 to him was about the same as Bush's.
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Samprimary
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So if I donated more than $200 more than once, does that make me a Really Big Donor, or does that thrust me into the Monied Shadow-Hegemony?
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Lyrhawn
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Dude, first rule of Monied Shadow-Hegemony...you do NOT talk about Monied Shadow-Hegemony!
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Samprimary
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The first rule of Candlejack is you don't talk ab
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