2:30 p.m. ET: Okay, it's over. You can put away your copy of "Team of Rivals" -- really, please, put it away -- and stop hedging your bets. Barack Obama appeared this morning in Chicago and announced that Hillary Clinton (not John Kerry or Richard Holbrooke) will be secretary of State, and Bob Gates (not Richard Danzig, for now) will run the Pentagon.
Now that they're in place, along with James Jones and Susan Rice, we can stop focusing so much on the eclectic mix of personalities in Obama's national security team and start thinking about what they will actually do in office. How will they approach what President Bush and others sometimes like to call the "global world"? And how will the world approach them?
Robert Kaplan argues that Obama and his brain trust will benefit from "buying into a bottomed-out market vis-à-vis America’s position in the world." Translation: Bush has driven the country's reputation into the ground, but has laid the groundwork for a comeback by shifting gears on Iraq, North Korea and a host of other subjects.
Roger Cohen thinks Clinton will help Obama push Israel into a peace deal with the Palestinians, a notion that Jeffrey Goldberg finds somewhat ridiculous. The choice of Rice (Susan, not Condi, and get ready for lots of corrections on this topic) for UN Ambassador, and an elevation of that post back to Cabinet status, may signal a new commitment to be more aggressive in combating genocide in Darfur. More broadly, the nameless authors over at the Economist believe Obama "has made the point that he is no lefty peacenik."
8 a.m. ET: What kind of news day will this be? A bit later this morning, Barack Obama -- the man who won the Democratic nomination and thus the presidency largely because of his opposition to the Iraq War -- will announce that he plans to keep President Bush's Defense Secretary in place. Democrats, for the most part, will be just fine with that choice. And that's not even today's top story.
After nearly a month of private meetings leavened by occasional public bursts of speculation, the incoming administration will make huge news today for perhaps only the second time since Election Day, following up on last Monday's announcement of the economic team by unveiling a similarly strong-willed national security team.
And much as Bob Gates's retention and the choice of James Jones as national security adviser are drawing attention, it remains today as it was in the beginning -- Hillary Clinton is still getting the most ink.
For all the plaudits Obama has received in recent days for his "Team of Rivals" approach to Cabinetry, opinion of the choice of Clinton has been mixed. The Bill Clinton problem seems to have been addressed, for now, by his willingness to disclose more than 200,000 donors to his various organizations. (Who in the newsroom wants to go through those names one-by-one? Not it!)
But "questions remain," as they say, about Hillary's role in the new administration: How often will she disagree with her new boss on a key foreign policy issue? When she does, will it leak? Will Bill Clinton really stop making unusual foreign trips?
Many Republicans, for their part, seem to love the choice of Clinton for Secretary of State (though getting praise from the likes of Richard Perle is probably not what Obama or Clinton had in mind). Reaction on the Left seems more reserved, as liberals wait to see whether the choice of Clinton -- and Gates, and Jones -- means Obama is walking back from his plans to withdraw from Iraq. Watch to see what the president-elect say on the subject just a few hours from now.
December 1, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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