First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend…
At a press conference this morning in Chicago, Barack Obama named his national security team, and most media attention focused on his selection of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
Obama appeared on stage with Clinton, as well as Vice President Elect Joseph Biden, Eric Holder, his choice for Attorney General; Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who Obama has asked to remain in his post; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, his choice for Secretary of Homeland Security; Susan Rice, who he has tapped to be U.N. Ambassador, and James Jones as national security adviser.
The choice provoked the one uncomfortable moment of the announcement, when a reporter asked Obama about some of his statements during the primary, in particular a suggestion that Clinton’s foreign policy credentials consisted of having tea with foreign leaders.
“This is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign,” he said, per the New York Times.
“She’ll be an outstanding Secretary of State, and if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have offered her the job and if she didn’t believe I’m equipped to lead this nation, she would not have accepted.”
Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, released a statement through his foundation. “In her service to the people of New York and our nation, Hillary has demonstrated the knowledge, passion, resilience, and capacity to learn that our country needs at this critical time. She loves being a Senator from New York, but as she has in all the thirty-seven years I’ve known her, she answered the call to serve. I commend President-Elect Obama for asking her to be a part of a great national security team. America will be well-served.”
But this was a story that had many more strands than Clinton, and some commentators cautioned that the media was missing the real story: Obama’s selection of Jones, who will be in day-to-day contact with him.
Chuck Todd of NBC News writes, “Some advice for our friends in the media, don’t focus on Clinton, focus on Jim Jones, someone personally more close with John McCain than Obama. And with an office in the West Wing, it will be Jones who has the day-to-day ear of Obama, not Clinton. In fact, of the three big national security posts, it’s possible a President McCain could have picked Jones and Gates as well. This is a throwback to the Bush years, not Bush 43, but Bush 41. Jones and Gates, in particular, seem to be from the Brent Scowcroft school of foreign policy.”
Massimo Calabresi writes in Time, “A year ago it would have seemed all but impossible. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate with the earliest and most outspoken record of opposition to the war in Iraq, wouldn’t name the man who led the Marines during the run-up to the war — and failed to publicly criticize the operation’s flawed planning — as his closest national security aide. But he has.”
Library Donors: As part of the deal to name Clinton as Secretary of State, her husband has agreed to publicly reveal the list of all donors to his foundation and library — something he refused to do during the primary season. Some of these names were revealed long ago by the Clinton Presidential Center, including Hollywood names like Steve Bing, Steven Spielberg and Haim Saban. Also on the list: David Geffen, who contributed before his very public fallout with the Clintons. But there inevitably will be more boldfaced names to come.
Inaugural Act: Elvis Costello will perform at the Creative Coalition’s Inaugural Ball, the org announced on Monday.
Matthews Moment: Chris Matthews denies that he is staffing up to make a run for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, but Hillary Clinton’s former spokesman says that the MSNBC host should be suspended because he is pondering the plunge into elective politics.
Phil Singer writes, per Politico, “If Chris Matthews is seriously considering a run for Arlen Specter’s Senate seat, he shouldn’t be on the air right now.
“One of the reasons millions of people rely on NBC as a news source is that it’s objective and driven by a fidelity to covering the news. So when one of the network’s most visible anchors is reported to be exploring a run for elected office, the network has an obligation to remove that person from its airwaves.”