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Obama Aide: Media Is Guessing With Cabinet Short Lists

Obama-Biden transition team co-chair Valerie Jarrett speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at the NBC studios Nov. 9, 2008 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press)

By Kevin Merida
Valerie Jarrett, transition co-chairman for President-elect Barack Obama, told an organization of black columnists today to be wary of published reports and speculation about Cabinet appointments.

"There isn't a single name on that list that you've heard from President-elect Obama," Jarrett told the Trotter Group in an hour-long interview session in Washington. "There's not a single name on that list that you've heard from me, or from John Podesta or from Pete Rouse," referring to the three co-chairs of Obama's transition.

"Or, now from Rahm Emanuel. So the five people who actually do know the names on the list, you haven't spoken to," Jarratt said. "So what I think you see in the newspaper is what everybody speculates. ... My guess is they're speculating on the people who are most commonly thought of."

Jarrett's answer was in response to a question about how diverse Obama's cabinet would be, based on the names being prominently circulated.

"President-elect Obama, as should be no surprise to anyone in this room, would like his cabinet to be diverse -- both in terms of race, in terms of perspective, in terms of party, in terms of geography," she said. "So he is looking to have a cross-section of America. Spending the amount of time with him I do, I can assure you this is something front and center of his mind. Not because it's the politically expedient thing to do, but because he would make better decisions by having diversity."

Jarrett signaled there may even be a new kind of Democratic Party under Obama's presidency.

"He ran as a Democrat. He believes in the Democratic values," she said. "But I think what he is saying is that the Democratic Party can change its shape, and that people who have not found affiliations with that party before can find it now, and that it can be a home for Republicans and independents too. I don't know if it means we change the title or you just focus more on how to solve the problems than focusing on whether you're a Republican or Democrat."

She indicated that some of the old ideological labels would be buried, saying, "When you start to use the kind of language, left or right or centrist, you begin to polarize us and that has been destructive in the past."

Of her own role in an Obama administration, or outside of it, Jarrett would only say that right now she is "putting all of my energy" into her role as one of three transition co-chairs.

"Whether ultimately I end up joining the administration or serving in some other capacity, I frankly haven't had the time to focus on yet," said Jarrett. "He is my dear friend. I would do anything the President of the United States asked me to do."

According to a report by Chicago's WLS-TV, Obama favors Jarrett for his Illinois Senate seat. Jarrett, a close friend of Obama and his wife Michelle, would not discuss deliberations about any specific appointment. Asked if she had ruled out anything, she said: "I leave it in his hands, his very capable hands. ... So we'll see, we'll see."

By Post Editor  |  November 9, 2008; 7:28 PM ET
Categories:  Cabinet , Transition  
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heard from a very strong source that Nelson Diaz is up for Secretary of HUD. He was HUD's General Counsel under President Clinton and knows the terrain. What's more, the Brookings Institute is publishing a book on Housing and it cites the Diaz Opinion as the cause for the success of the HOPE IV (hope 6) program. Judge Diaz's opinion allowed leveraging of public and private financing and partnerships with private sector by the Public Housing Authorities that was never done before. He'd be a great choice.

Posted by: koufax | November 11, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

don't let birthdays fool you.

it's been forty-four years two months since "some guy" gave a speech we now know as ""I have a dream" that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

and i may add:
"Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!".

i ain't scared no more.

Posted by: egalitaire | November 10, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

With only 70 days or so till President-Elect Obama takes the oath of office, he most probally has his cabinet chosen. Some of his appointee's will suprise and have the Republican's scratching their heads. If i were him i would make Hillary Clinton Secretary of State and I belive he should leave the defence sectary in place if he agrees to stay on. With China having to put money in their own economy it is important the he takes quick and dynamic measures to rebuild the US economy. He needs to combine with europe and austrial-asia and japan. The US needs they as much as they need a strong US economy. I live in ireland and we and the rest of europe are feeling the weight of expectation till the new administration takes control. If possible I would hope he could use President Bushes last days in office to start the ball rolling, I believe President Bush would welcome this and would be keen to co-operate. He knows he has little time left to make possitive's to the end of his 8 years in charge. America and the world need Onbama to be successful, the hopes of us all rest with him that he can put the world economy back on tracks.

Posted by: josephennis | November 10, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

I think some comments on this article are folks looking at this through monolithic GOP glasses. Unlike the McCain/Palin campaign that consisted of middle to late aged white neo-cons or GW's administration where placement of near nazi right wingers went all the way down to non-political jobs in goverment. Obama had diversity in his campaign and will likely do the same for his administration. That does not, however, mean that he is going to fill his Cabinet with a bunch of neo-nazi-cons to placate the Palin/Cheney minority of this country. BTW diveristy DOES NOT mean minorities it means a diverse group. The fact that his Chief of Staff is a ardent Democrat stands to reason as will several of his top appointment. If you did not realize he WON on Nov 4th and most of America supported his viewpoint, so it stands to reason that he will appoint folks who agree with MOST OF AMERICA and not a few right-wing nuts!

Posted by: rcc_2000 | November 10, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Of course the media is guessing, now that the longest presidential campaign season in history is over which ended with a historical result and an economic crisis resulting in lower circulations and layoffs, the political media is doing all it can to be make sure they stay afloat.

The dilemma for Obama is that 75% of Americans are anxious for GW Bush to get out of office and out of town!

Posted by: AJ2008 | November 10, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Say what you will, but Lo and behold:

Rahm Emanuel!

In short though, I HOPE you are right!

Many of the Names leaked out-Especially Timothy Geithner;

Do not Bode well! :-(

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 10, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Oh God, here we go again. It is the Clinton EGG (ethnicity, gender, geography) program all over again. Never mind experience and expertise.

Posted by: Jaxxon | November 10, 2008 7:02 AM | Report abuse


• Retain Gates and Mukasey along with Mueller

• Lay plans to put "homeland" agencies under the wing of Defense, Justice and Treasury

Contrary to mainstream media convention wisdom, Barack Obama's most pressing task at hand is not dealing with the economic crisis.

He must first move to consolidate his power and disarm potential rogue elements within the bowels of the apparachik that may be tempted to subvert his leadership.

Major elements of the security complex no longer fall under the purview of the Department of Defense or the Justice Department. Their independence, and lack of meaningful oversight, make these entities a potential breeding ground for resistance to his ascension to the presidency.

The situation is compounded by the fact that some of these entities are privy to virtually all channels of communications and surveillance.

President-elect Obama would be wise to co-opt any potential resistance by retaining the services of Defense Secretary Gates, and, at least for the short term, Attorney General Mukasey. FBI Director Mueller's term isn't up until 2010; the retention of Gates and Mukasay, along with the continued service of Mueller, would act as a powerful deterrent to potential rogue actors who do not fall under the command of those three key security officials.

The President-elect should immediately announce the retention of these Bush administration appointees. Then he should lay plans for a Congressionally-mandated reorganization that would once again bring the agencies of the Department of Homeland Security under the direct purview and authority of existing cabinet departments -- notably, Defense, Justice and Treasury.

Such a reorganization would establish greater accountability on the part of the Homeland Security agencies, and would better facilitate meaningful Congressional oversight.

This reorganization would retire the title "Homeland Security," which is linguistically reminiscent of the rhetoric of Nazi Germany.

Gates and Mukasey, it could be argued, already have demonstrated their capability for independent decision-making that puts the good of the nation above partisan politics. By giving them a vote of confidence now, President-elect Obama would demonstrate bi-partisanship while deterring potential rogue resistance to his leadership.


Not as long as government-supported extrajudicial targeting squads are "community stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:




Posted by: scrivener50 | November 10, 2008 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Change is on the way, dam, grasp it with your heart.. If you, the people think as this as comedy, you are surely sick and in need of help. God willing, this man can and will make drastic changes for good, for your Country, not just the people. Both work together. You might yet be liked by all foreign Countries. May your god bless you, but I believe he has. From a white Canadian? What a shame I must have to say that. What the hell difference is our color or Religious beliefs? You are on your way to Freedom.

Posted by: justada56 | November 9, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

For the last two decades, the Republicans have steadily purged themselves of all moderates, of anyone who did not toe the party line, of anyone who did not support the party leaders with every fiber of their being.

Under leaders like Tom DeLay and a dozen other of the top far-right powerbrokers, apostasy was ruthlessly punished. Moderates were primaried out, the religiously or socially tolerant were excoriated, the legislatively balanced were forced from their positions -- all in service to a supposed permanent ideological governance, one that valued ideological purity over all else. Over knowledge, over experience, over common sense, over the very fabric of the law -- the ideology of hard-right conservatism trumped it all. Toe the line, and you were granted jobs in the administration, or positions of leadership in Iraq, or plum committee assignments. Voice disapproval -- you were nothing. You woke up the next morning to a White House Press Secretary declaring that you were a disgruntled brat, one with emotional or mental impairments that were responsible for your pitiable desertion.

After twenty years of purging, all the Republicans have left is that hard-right extreme. They shoved everyone else out willingly: it seems hardly surprising that now, faced with the fruits of it all, they are finding that all constituencies of the nation that they sought to condemn, belittle or purge are no longer interested in supporting them now.

I have no particular interest in them learning this lesson, of course. As far as I am concerned the last thirty years have proven modern conservatism to be not just ill conceived, but paranoid, divisive, willfully incompetent, obtusely premised, and in sum utterly valueless to the nation -- a waste of political oxygen. Something to be burned at the stake, and the ashes scattered, never to be heard from again.

A few years ago, Republican strategists were crowing about a new "permanent Republican majority". As of last Tuesday night, Republicans are a regional party with a narrowly defined ideology and abysmal support among the next generations of voters.

And all it took was Republicans stinking up the place on every conceivable level, dragging the nation into botched war efforts, corruption in the Department of Justice, and the possible collapse of our entire financial system.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 9, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Indications are that Huckabee may be getting ready to announce that he plans to run in 2012, according to
They have a article there about Huckabees 2012 Campaign Website. Hopefully the GOP will wise up and get behind the only GOP contender that appeals to the working class. Huckabee is awesome. Came from Working Class Roots did a great Job in Arkensaw. I myself an independant couldnt see voting for any other GOP contender. Besides after watching the video Huckabee Hearts Obama on Youtube. Why would I want to vote anyother way.!!!

Posted by: pastor123 | November 9, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Is Cynthia McKinney still on the Obama's short list for SecState?

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | November 9, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

This is very encouraging. Many names I have seen in the speculations are retreads or the pushing of favorites. I suspect in the Obama selections we will see thought, reason, intelligence and diversity in the full meaning of that term.

Posted by: StephenRose | November 9, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

What Mr. Obama does NOT do is surround himself with moronic people. From his campaign committee to his transition staff, to (I assume) his cabinet, we see the truly best and brightest. I'm old enough to know the connotations of that phrase, but I don't think lightning is going to strike the same place twice. This is going to be one Hell of a good cabinet, even if some of the names aren't familiar.

Posted by: hayeseric | November 9, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

If diversity goes with qualifications like himself, the Obama administration will be a smacking success. We now have a smart president and a wonderful family man, husband and father. Hope we will get to see the cabinet list by Thanksgiving.

Posted by: dummy4peace | November 9, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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