4 p.m. ET: Just in time for your holiday shopping comes this unsurprising news: Barack Obama has been chosen as Time's Person of the Year. (If John McCain had won the election, would the honor have gone to him or Sarah Palin? Or might Obama have won anyway?) You can get your framed copy just in time to stuff in a loved one's stocking. And The Rundown would be remiss if he didn't suggest a few other Christmas gifts for the politically inclined:
• This, well, just look at it. And before you complain, read the background to discover why a figurine of Obama, um, doing his business is NOT a crude joke but rather an honor and a tribute.
• For the adults, there's "A World of Trouble," the soon-to-be-released tome on America and the Middle East by journalist Patrick Tyler. Why might this be an interesting gift? Because it reportedly includes a scene in which George Tenet, drunk beside Prince Bandar's pool in Riyadh, complains about "the Jews" and "the bastards" in the Bush administration who allegedly set him up to take the fall for faulty Iraq intelligence claims. Destined to become a holiday classic.
8 a.m. ET: The parlor game of guessing Barack Obama's Cabinet picks is sadly nearing its end, as almost every position is now filled. Tom Vilsack and Ken Salazar are set to be named today to head Agriculture and Interior, respectively.
(If you're keeping track, the Cabinet is still without a southerner. Didn't Obama win Virginia and North Carolina?)
That leaves just two openings in the Cabinet, at Labor and Transportation. One person who won't be taking a job with the Obama administration: Xavier Becerra, who is no longer interested in being U.S. Trade Representative because, he told the editorial board of La Opinion, trade issues "would not be priority No. 1, and perhaps, not even priority No. 2 or 3" for the new administration. Remember that strategy the next time you get a job offer (and it's not clear that the job was ever really offered to Becerra) -- don't just turn down the offer, but insult the prospective employer in the process! They'll be teaching that one in business school for a long time.
Since Hillary Clinton did not "pull a Becerra" and is, in fact, leaving the Senate to join the administration, the search for her successor grinds on. Caroline Kennedy got some vocal support yesterday from Harry Reid, who cited both Clinton and Kennedy's uncle in pointing out, "We have a lot of stars from New York." He also noted that "she's 52 years old." What more do you need to hear? That should quiet any suggestion she's unqualified.
As for current officeholders, the most important one is in the midst of some legacy-burnishing publicity. George W. Bush tells CNN that he doesn't make a practice of looking backwards, the way Karl Rove did when he suggested that perhaps we wouldn't have invaded Iraq if we'd known then what we know now. "First of all, my dear friend must recognize there are no do-overs," Bush said. (One person who would probably like a do-over: The shoe-throwing guy, who missed his one chance at the target. As a consolation, he's become a hero to many in the Arab world and the protagonist of lots of video games.)
You know who else doesn't seem so introspective about the past? Rod Blagojevich, who appears determined to hold onto office as long as possible. If you're still unfamiliar with the details of this case, watch a helpful reenactment here. It turns out that Jesse Jackson Jr, aka Senate Candidate 5, actually talked to the FBI a while ago about a separate Blagojevich issue. Though his last name is almost as famous as Kennedy's, it looks unlikely Jackson will get the Illinois Senate seat amid all this controversy. Perhaps he can get a Cabinet post. We hear there are still a couple available.
December 17, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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