Saturday, November 8, 2008

Obama transition

Obama gave his first press conference yesterday, and has already announced his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. I had always assumed that Rahm would end up with a high-level position in an Obama Administration, and CoS seemed like an obvious one. Note that while John Boehner, GOP leader in the House immediately blasted it, Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator from South Carolina, praised it as a "wise" decision.

Interestingly, Byrd has in fact stepped down as chair of the Appropriations Committee. We'll have to see who the replacement is, but in general, Byrd doesn't exactly have the strongest committment to progressive policies especially in the environmental realm, so I think this is good news for the Dems. Besides, he's 90, time for someone else to have a shot. Earlier I heard Inoye from Hawaii floated as a replacement, but he's in his 80s, and I'm not sure if that makes much sense. We'll see, I guess. Over in the House, Waxman, whom you might remember as the bald, mustachiod guy from the baseball steroid hearings, is challenging Dingell from Michigan for chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. For the reason I'd love for Byrd to step down, Dingell has been a real road bump towards much environmental legislation (he represents entrenched car interests). Further, Waxman has always struck me as, if nothing else, sincere and truly committed to the progressive cause, so more power to him.

Ned Nedelender writes in:
As noted above, a liberal Supreme Court death in February has got to be the nightmare for Obama. Not the tone you want to set for you admin. But it does raise an interesting parlor question: if you're Obama and you have your druthers, when do you want the first SC retirement? I assume one will happen at the end of the session in June, but that's probably earlier than I want if I'm Barack...

I've been wondering the same thing. I agree that an immediate retirement/death would not be a good thing for Obama, because the Supreme Court battles tend to occur along the more social rifts in our society, Roe v. Wade being at the top of the list, of course, but stem cells, torture (is that a social issue?), etc. Obama doesn't want to refight these battles, especially when the process is largely out of his hands once he picks the guy or girl. If I were Barack, I'd be hoping for at least a year of my presidency, working with strong majorities in both houses, to actually get policy stuff done before dealing with any Supreme Court stuff. Of course, it will be interesting to see many on the Right who insisted on an 'up-or-down vote' during the Bush Administration do exactly the opposite.