Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Change" Feels Like Deja Ju

Obama, Candidate of Change, Looks to Old Hands From Clinton Era

By Catherine Dodge and Kristin Jensen

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama, elected president as an agent of change, is building his new team with old hands from the Clinton administration.

His first appointment, chief of staff, went to Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois representative and veteran of the last Democratic White House. Leading Obama's transition team is John Podesta, who was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff.

Obama's most dramatic step would be to name New York Senator Hillary Clinton, his defeated rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, as secretary of state. Two Obama advisers confirm the idea has been discussed, though they say they don't know how seriously the president-elect is considering it or whether Clinton would accept it.

Faced from day one with an economic crisis and two wars, Obama's campaign theme of changing the way Washington works is about to be overtaken by getting to work in Washington. For that, experience helps.

"Once you become president-elect, the rubber hits the road, and you're going to want to put people in positions of power who have a proven track record,'' says Chris Lehane, who was a special assistant counsel to Clinton.

The presence of Clinton-era advisers has drawn fire on blogs: from liberals who viewed the Clinton administration as too centrist and conservatives for whom the former president remains a favorite target.

The other risk for Obama is that his administration "can quickly look like the Clinton administration, now defined, by his campaign, as the status quo,'' says Julian Zelizer, a history and public-affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey.

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