2:45 p.m. ET: If a campaign suddenly broke out tomorrow, would there be anyone left in town to run it?
It's a legitimate question, given the news today that Howard Dean will be stepping down as Democratic National Committee chairman in January. Dean's move means that five of the six major campaign committees in Washington face a definite or potential change in leadership come next year. Let's review:
DNC: Dean's going, which gives Barack Obama the chance to name his own chairman. Plenty of names are in the mix to succeed the Vermont doctor, who may have designs on being HHS Secretary.
Republican National Committee: Mike Duncan wants to keep the top job at the RNC, but he's going to have to fight for it. The Fix lists more than a half-dozen potential contenders for the job. Fairly or not, will Republicans really want to keep the guy who was in charge during one of their worst cycles in history?
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: Chuck Schumer appears likely to stand down after two straight successful cycles. Robert Mendendez is the only potential successor whose name has come up in recent days.
National Republican Senatorial Committee: John Ensign is done as NRSC chairman, and both John Cornyn and Norm Coleman have been mentioned as contenders to succeed him. Cornyn looks like the better bet, since Coleman is still dealing with a recount back home and some scandal stories that could be a continued distraction.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: This is the only one of the six campaign arms with a certain future, as Chris Van Hollen agreed to stay on as chairman after some very friendly arm-twisting by Nancy Pelosi.
National Republican Congressional Committee: Like Duncan at the RNC, Tom Cole wants to keep his job at the NRCC. But he faces a tough challenge from Pete Sessions, who has the backing of John Boehner and is not the guy who just lost 20 seats last Tuesday.
8 a.m. ET: The once and future kings, better known as 43 and 44, will meet at the White House this afternoon to talk transition, raising a few key questions: What advice will President Bush give Barack Obama on being leader of the free world in such trying times? Will they discuss the issue most Americans really seem to care about -- the breed of the forthcoming First Puppy? And can Saturday Night Live actually parody the meeting in real time, or will the show have to wait five days?
If you slept in Sunday, you may well have missed Rahm Emanuel hitting the morning shows to dole out one of the few tidbits of news that trickled out over the weekend: Obama will focus quickly on implementing the middle-class tax cut plan that seemed to serve him so well during the presidential campaign.
But before you rush out to start spending your forthcoming tax cut, note that we have no idea how quickly Obama actually intends to act on the proposal. In the first month? The first year? Emanuel also suggested that Obama wouldn't necessarily put off a tax increase on the wealthy just because of the economic downturn -- somewhere, Joe the Plumber feels vindicated -- but it's still not clear whether and how Obama will be able to pay for his plan without alienating those pesky budget hawks in his own party.
Also on tap for relatively quick action: A stimulus package, aid to the auto industry, an expansion of benefits for children's health care and a host of executive orders reversing key Bush policies -- Exhibit A for "Why It's Fun to Be President." But the timing is less certain for energy, health care reform and immigration. The Colombia free trade agreement seems nowhere near passage. And what about the "card check" bill, which unions would like to see passed on Inauguration Day, if that was allowed? (Lawyers are working on that question.)
With the economy tanking, Obama and team have been making clear that at least some of his priorities will have to wait. AP says he's "putting hope on hold," which is unlikely to be his new slogan. The selection of the Cabinet may also have to wait a bit, as Obama aides put out word that it's unlikely anyone will be named to top jobs this week.
Finally, an update on the Obama online transition effort. The president-elect's handsome-looking new Web site, Change.gov, includes the expected press releases and a link where you and millions of other Americans can submit your resume. But it also includes a section that says, "We want to hear your inspiring stories from this campaign and Election Day," along with a link to "Tell Us Your Story."
As the site notes, it is run by the "Obama-Biden Transition Project, a 501c(4) organization," which means it's a private, rather than governmental, entity. Still, is such talk of the inspiring campaign appropriate on a Web site with a ".gov" domain name?
November 10, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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