On Sunday, the Grand Rapids Press ran a Cox News Service story, which states that the new administration is “strikingly different from the last time a Democratic administration was preparing to take power.” The article then never substantiates this claim and only provides a list of president-elect Obama’s “inner circle” with a short bio after each name.
The list of Obama’s inner circle begins with Rham Emanuel, whom The Press story says was a former “Clinton White House advisor” and “chief strategist for health care and other initiatives.” We have already reported how Emanuel was a key figure in the passage of NAFTA, but the other major influence that Obama’s White Chief of Staff brings is his pro-Israel stance. Emanuel is so zealous in his support of Israel that he even “signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel.”
Next on the list is David Axelrod, a “onetime political reporter for the Chicago Tribune and past consultant to Mayor Richard Daley.” The Press story also states that Axelrod was responsible for the “change” theme in the Obama campaign.
What was not mentioned in the article was that Axelrod has been a consultant to the nuclear energy corporation Exelon since 2002. Exelon has been a major donor to the Obama campaign. Axelrod has done a great deal of his consulting work with AKP&D Message & Media, a political consulting firm that serves Democrats. In addition, he works with ASK Public Strategies, a group that is known for creating corporate front groups.
Other members of the president-elect’s inner circle are David Plouffe, who also worked for AKP&D Message & Media with David Axelrod; Valarie Jarrett, a longtime Chicago political fixture who also worked for Habitat Company, “which develops and manages residential properties, from public housing to luxury condominiums”; Robert Gibbs, another political consultant. Before working on the Kerry campaign in 2004, Gibbs “worked for a third-party political group that threw sharp elbows in the 2004 Iowa caucuses–including a television ad that used a picture of Osama bin Laden to criticize Howard Dean’s foreign policy credentials.”
The story also mentions Jason Furman who will be a top economic advisor to Obama. The story mentions his relationship to former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and his position at the Brookings Institute, but fails to mention his legal work for Wal-Mart. According to writer Naomi Klein, Furman “is one of Wal-Mart’s most prominent defenders,” and is a proponent of the Chicago-School principles of economics that were developed under Milton Friedman.
In addition to Furman, Obama will also have Austan Goolsbee, another economic advisor who told a Canadian news agency that Obama would not really change NAFTA Goolsbee has also been an economic advisor for the Democratic Leadership Council, according to author Paul Street.
The last two names listed in The Press article are former Senator Tom Daschle and current Senator Dick Durbin. Daschle is mentioned as “having done extensive health care work” and Durbin as “a war critic.” Unfortunately for readers there are no details of Durbin’s voting record. Instead, we are left with comments such as “He is also well-liked in the Senate and makes good use of humor.”