As reported on NBC, John Brennan has taken himself out of any consideration for a position in Pres-Elect Obama’s cabinet.
John Brennan, President-elect Barack Obama’s top adviser on intelligence, has taken his name out of the running for any intelligence position in the new administration.
In a letter Tuesday, Brennan wrote letter to Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment has raised a firestorm in liberal blogs who associate him with the Bush administration’s interrogation, detention and rendition policies.
“The fact that I was not involved in the decision making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored,” he wrote, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
This is obviously great news, I would say that the criticism from the left played an instrumental role in preventing Brennan from having any position in an Obama administration. Brennan’s position on torture is somewhat, well, tortured. He has come under quite a bit of scrutiny of course, given some of his statements on torture. His position on the issue isn’t really clear (except the fact that he hasn’t really taken a position), but the fact that he leaves himself open for question on the issue was of course a major problem. Unequivocal opposition of torture should be a prerequisite for any intelligence director, or any position in Intelligence or Justice for that matter.
In a small piece of overlooked news, I’m happy to report that Tom Vilsack will not be named Secretary of Agriculture:
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack today said that he won’t be the next agriculture secretary, ending speculation that an Iowan would snag the post important to a large swath of the state’s economy.
In an e-mail, Vilsack said he had never been contacted by aides to President-elect Barack Obama about that position or any other.
Why do I see this as good news? No disrespect to Gov. Vilsack, who I’m sure is a capable guy, but his views are too inexorably tied to his state and its central role in our food system. Indeed, he’s been one of the earliest and biggest pushers of corn-based ethanol as a solution to our energy crisis.
Now, to be fair, this is not Obama’s strongest issue as he too hails from a midwest, corn-producing state.
But, in an ideal world, the agriculture secretary will be someone who will start to wean us off this corn-based, centrally-managed food system (which, by the way, is highly vulnerable to disruption and attack) and instead move us to a more regional system.
Jonathan Martin at Politico reminds us of one of the signature lines from the primary contest, where in response to a question (and a guffaw from Senator Clinton) about why there were so many Clinton advisers on Obama’s team, President-elect Obama lets loose with possibly the zinger of the election season:
I heard Chuck Todd on MSNBC today saying that Obama will likely not campaign for Jim Martin in his Senate runoff campaign. I can understand that he’s focused on the transition right now, and also that Martin faces an uphill climb. Still, I think it’s a mistake. For one thing, with the Alaska race moving our way and Minnesota still a good possibility, Georgia could end up being the Dems’ shot at 60 seats. Now, given the fluidity of cloture votes, I don’t believe that 60 is the magic number some have made it out to be, but it does represent a psychological hurdle, and besides, a Sen. Martin is a heck of a lot less likely to join a filibuster than Sen. Chambliss.
I also don’t really see what Obama has to lose by getting involved. If Martin loses, that will be what was expected, so Obama will hardly be associated with that loss. On the other hand, if he helps Martin pull off the upset, it will have Republicans shaking in their boots and will serve to validate not only his coattails but also his 50-state strategy. Besides, it’s not like this race is in Mississippi; Obama came within a few points of McCain in Georgia. Nor is Martin running away from Obama; in fact, he seems eager to have him visit.
The Republicans are going all out to crank up their base. Obama is the one guy who can truly help the Democrats turn out theirs. He should go to Georgia.
Big news out of Alaska:
The elections division still has over 10,000 ballots left to count today and thousands more through next week, but the latest numbers show Mark Begich leading Sen. Ted Stevens 125,019 to 125,016.
The new numbers, reflecting nearly 43,000 absentee ballots counted today, are from all over the state. Election night, Ted Stevens led the Democratic Begich by about 3,000 votes.
The state today is counting a total of about 60,000 absentee and questioned ballots.
I’ve frankly been very confident about the Dems picking up this seat, given the number of outstanding ballots, and the fact that I found it confounding that Alaska voters would vote to send a convicted felon back to Washington. It appears that many outstanding votes are from Dem friendly districts. So we’re getting closer to getting to the magical 60 senate number.
This picture is from the meeting at the White House between President-Elect Obama and President Bush. I’m not a body language guru, but I found this to be a pretty powerful picture. President-Elect Obama is wasting no time in asserting himself.
I’ll be poll-watching as part of the legal Voter Protection Team here in Washington. It’s gonna be a long day for me (about to hit the bed to get a relatively decent night’s sleep), but it will be well worth it. I see that Obama won Dixville Notch, the first of the election day voting. A good start to what will hopefully be a great day.
Interesting. McCain has decided that his last chance is to persuade voters with an intense barrage of commercials that will, for the last few days of the campaign, bring him to parity with Obama on air. However, there is one thing to note about this decision:
The decision to finance a final advertising push is forcing McCain to curtail spending on Election Day ground forces to help usher his supporters to the polls, according to Republican consultants familiar with McCain’s strategy.
The vaunted, 72-hour plan that President Bush used to mobilize voters in 2000 and 2004 has been scaled back for McCain. He has spent half as much as Obama on staffing and has opened far fewer field offices. This week, a number of veteran GOP operatives who orchestrate door-to-door efforts to get voters to the polls were told they should not expect to receive plane tickets, rental cars or hotel rooms from the campaign.