On the post-election Meet the Press, burly Tom Brokaw asked co-chairperson of the Obama-Biden Transition Project Valerie Jarrett about the last conversation she'd had with Obama before he became president-elect. "We made some expressions, and we actually didn't say a word," she said of her near-BFF level bro. A longtime friend to the Obamas, the Iranian-born Jarrett was named Senior White House Advisor late yesterday, ending speculation she would take a major Cabinet-level post role and instead remaining close as always to the president-elect. Are we about to fall in love kinda like we did with Condi Rice but only for real this time?The campaign seems to already have a tight grip on who they want where, and Jarrett's early appointment doesn't step off that course. Jarrett, 52, isn't a new face in Obama's life, or in American politics, but she'll be a breath of fresh air to the country at large. Born in Shiraz, Iran, she moved to London when she was just seven. Her African-American dad was a geneticist running a children's hospital in the country. The divorced Jarrett has the president-elect's unwavering trust, and her new title accurately captures just how much voice the real estate company CEO will have in the early days of BO's administration.
Ever tactful, the Obama campaign asked the National Organization for Women to submit a list of potential candidates for high-level posts — presumably so it can be filed in a place that can't be found. There's considerable evidence from the campaign that Barack is prepared to surround himself with smart people, but like President Bush, loyalty will also play a key role. Politico wonders whether this will result in a paucity of women in the administration:
"I have been struck by how few women have been mentioned for high level positions," said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, who worked on the Clinton transition. "It's still very early, so I don’t want to reach conclusions yet. But the rumors are a flashing yellow light." The mention of Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is seen as particularly problematic. As president of Harvard University, Summers said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. The controversial comment led to his ousting as president of the school.
Man, the guy hasn't even named his staff yet, and candidates are being pre-screened by lobbyists, with Politico reporting that Summers basically has no chance at the Treasury Secretary gig. How dare a transition team be rumored to consider someone!