Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama Needs to Draw on Clinton Veterans

Although many are calling for President-elect Obama to bring new voices to his administration and turn away from experienced Clinton White House and administration veterans, this would be a grave error. There is a steep learning curve in the White House if you have never worked there before--particularly for the person that occupies the Oval Office. If the president's inner circle of advisers, headed by the chief of staff, do not have Washington or White House experience, serious errors will be made. One need only look at the chaotic early years of both the Carter and Clinton administrations to see that a new administration needs to draw experienced voices into high levels of the White House and administration.

If Rahm Emanuel does take the job he has reportedly been offered, this would be an excellent start to the transition. Emanuel is a White House and Congressional veteran. There is perhaps no better organized, more disciplined, more savvy Democrat in the Beltway. If he comes aboard, look for the senior positions in the White House to be filled quickly and have a number of Clinton veterans among them. Although some worry (including myself) that Emanuel's hard edge could cause problems within the White House (he is nicknamed "Rahmbo" afterall), Emanuel would be a loyal and fierce guardian of the president--perhaps the most underrated but most important role a chief of staff plays in a White House.

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