I can’t believe it’s not change

As it looks increasingly like Barack Obama’s White House will be stuffed to the gills with Washington insiders like Rahm Emanuel and, as Politico‘s Mike Allen reports this morning, new Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Ron Klain (blue white shirt), media outlets are going to start asking incessantly whether there’s any substance to the “change” ...

591543_081113_klain5.jpg
591543_081113_klain5.jpg

As it looks increasingly like Barack Obama's White House will be stuffed to the gills with Washington insiders like Rahm Emanuel and, as Politico's Mike Allen reports this morning, new Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Ron Klain (blue white shirt), media outlets are going to start asking incessantly whether there's any substance to the "change" mantra from the campaign.

So, is America in for more of the same? Marc Ambinder says no. Personnel aren't policy, and Obama has always turned to insiders for help:

Obama hasn't ever surrounded himself with outsiders; he was encouraged to run by Tom Daschle and Dick Durbin; Ab Mikva and Newt Minow and Bill Daley were among his top advisors; Because he lives in Chicago, David Axelrod is not a Washington insider, but he is not an outsider by any means, and certainly is an "insider" in the colloquial sense of the phrase. Obama chose Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder (insiders) to run his vice presidential search; the vetting was conducted by veteran DC lawyers who had done this all before.

As it looks increasingly like Barack Obama’s White House will be stuffed to the gills with Washington insiders like Rahm Emanuel and, as Politico‘s Mike Allen reports this morning, new Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Ron Klain (blue white shirt), media outlets are going to start asking incessantly whether there’s any substance to the “change” mantra from the campaign.

So, is America in for more of the same? Marc Ambinder says no. Personnel aren’t policy, and Obama has always turned to insiders for help:

Obama hasn’t ever surrounded himself with outsiders; he was encouraged to run by Tom Daschle and Dick Durbin; Ab Mikva and Newt Minow and Bill Daley were among his top advisors; Because he lives in Chicago, David Axelrod is not a Washington insider, but he is not an outsider by any means, and certainly is an “insider” in the colloquial sense of the phrase. Obama chose Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder (insiders) to run his vice presidential search; the vetting was conducted by veteran DC lawyers who had done this all before.

In an earlier post, Ambinder observes that the Obama team has learned from Bill Clinton’s mistakes, and is keen to get the White House staff up and running early in the transition process. Hence, Emanuel and Klain, two guys who won’t need on-the-job training. Other Clinton administration veterans are leading transition teams for various cabinet departments, but the focus is clearly on making sure the West Wing team is in place before focusing on defense, state, and the rest of the plum jobs.

For us journalists and political junkies, the wait to find out about cabinet appointments feels agonizing, and the parlor games about who Obama should pick could get mighty stale after another couple of weeks. Larry Summers, John Kerry, and the rest of the folks campaigning for a top spot are probably going a little insane right now. But if the upshot is that the president-elect is better able to hit the ground running on Jan. 20, I think we’ll all survive.

Photo: PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

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