Sweet Home Chicago Will Stay That Way for Obama

We learned some new details about President-elect Barack Obama yesterday, including that he will maintain his home in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood as a White House getaway for the first family. Kinda like Crawford, Tex.,added this because my first thought was “crawford who” but i may be way wrong but without the brush.

“My Kennebunkport is on the South Side of Chicago,” Obama said, referring to President George H.W. Bush’s getaway in Maine during an interview with reporters from the Tribune Co. “Our friends are here. Our family is here. We are going to try to come back here as often as possible, ..... at least once every six weeks or couple months.”

Obama did the interview in his sparsely furnished Chicago transition office with two basketballs on a bookshelf and another by the door. With most transition officials working in Washington, the Secret Service agents outnumbered the Chicago staff, the Tribune staffers reported.

When he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Obama said he plans to be sworn in using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

“I think the tradition is that [presidents] use all three names, and I will follow the tradition,” Obama said. “I’m not trying to make a statement one way or another. I’ll do what everybody else does.”

Obama said that he and his wife have not started looking shopping for a church in Washington but noted that he receives regular prayer phone calls from T.D. Jakes, pastor of a Dallas mega-church; Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback, a California mega-church; and Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Crashing the Party

The rotten economy has caused many businesses and non-profits to cut back on holiday parties. So a few dozen of the younger-ish foreign policy geeks who are members of the Council on Foreign Relations decided to throw their own bash at the super-trendy chocolate bar Co Co. Sala in Penn Quarter.

The crowd, mostly in their 30s, was hanging out, having a good time, talking Darfur, Mumbai, Kirkuk and Putin, when some noticed a shaggy-haired, familiar-looking guy, boyish despite his gray hair, standing by the door waiting for someone. Knew him from somewhere but .....
Then in comes Santa himself in the form of one Kurt Campbell, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, head of the Center for a New American Security, and most critical for for job-seekers in this holiday season, an important player on the Pentagon transition effort. Turns out the other fellow was James Steinberg, reported to be the pick for deputy secretary of state.

The duo came to the attention of the party-goers, who scrambled for their résumés, but Steinberg and Campbell, showing superb battlefield awareness — and recognizing an asymmetric power balance — beat a hasty but dignified retreat to find a safer strategic environment where they could eat unmolested by importuners.

Podesta in the Pool

To Team Obama workers, it seemed the whole transition inexplicably slowed for a few hours there yesterday morning. No one could figure out why. Turns out, transition chief John Podesta was not in. He was cooling his heels down in D.C. Superior Court, waiting to see if he would be called for jury duty.

D.C has a one-day-or-one-trial system, in which residents spend a day in the jury pool and, if not picked, are off the hook for a couple of years. If picked, you’re there for the duration of the trial. You can, as Podesta did, get one deferment. After that, you’ve got to gotta show.

So there he was, sitting in that big room with scores of other local residents, doing his civic duty. We’re told he even got so far as to be called for voire dire for a criminal trial. A kindly judge let him off the hook until after the inauguration. Podesta got back shortly after lunch and the transition train chugged off down the track.

Straight Talk Excess

Run, don’t walk, to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign headquarters in Arlington for an amazing Blowout Sale! Computers, BlackBerrys, televisions, desks, you name it — everything must go. Hurry while the offer lasts!

Our colleague Mary Ann Akers reports on her fine blog, Tthe Sleuth, that the failed McCain-Palin campaign is having a fire sale this week on leftover equipment. An e-mail sent over the weekend to all campaign staff, which was subsequently forwarded to The Sleuth, reads:

“Starting Monday December 8, 2008 the prices will be slashed to 36% of the original price for furniture, office supplies, blackberries, and many campaign computers,” announced the e-mail. “This is a great opportunity to own a piece of history, finish your Christmas shopping, or simply replace your old laptop.”

The hot deals on the price sheet include a Dell Latitude D620 laptop for $417 , a fine Brother printer for $189, a BlackBerry 8700c for $30, and folding chairs for $3.60 each. But wait! There’s plenty more, including flat-screen TVs, a black microfiber sofa, lamps, end tables and a mission-style coffee table from Target (at the low, low price of blue light special rate of $60).

Alas, nothing from the Sarah Palin $180,000 extreme makeover paid for by the Republican National Committee.

Short on cash? No problem. “We accept cash, checks, and credit cards,” the price sheet says.

Moving Out

National Archivist Allen Weinstein, who has Parkinson’s disease, has submitted his resignation effective Dec. 19, citing health reasons. Weinstein’s 2005 appointment by President Bush sparked controversy, especially over concerns that he would be an independent archivist. There were allegations that President Bush sacked his predecessor for political reasons.

While the archivist is keeper of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, he also is charged with making sure that highly sensitive presidential papers are open and available to the public.

In that regard, said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, Weinstein “always rose to the challenge.” When his group found the CIA trying to reclassify already-open, public documents, he said, “Allen put a stop to it. When we caught the Nixon library pulling the plug at the last minute on a conference” because they didn’t want Nixon critics to attend, “Allen used it as leverage to get the Nixon library to agree to restore” numerous records Nixon had gotten the courts to remove from public access.

On the other hand, Blanton felt Weinstein didn’t change the Archives’ “inferiority complex and use its leverage by law” to block the current administration from dropping its archiving system of e-mails.”

Deputy Archivist Adrienne Thomas will serve as acting archivist until a successor is named and approved by the Senate, most likely next year.

With Philip Rucker

By Eric Pianin  |  December 11, 2008; 11:19 AM ET
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