Aside from speculation about rumors of high-ranking cabinet positions, attention on who is involved in Obama’s transition effort has been relatively muted over the past week.
For example, on the Sunday The Grand Rapids Press reported on some of Obama’s appointments thus far, but offered little by way of substantive examination of those appointed–or the advisors helping Obama make his decision. Similarly, the online progressive and left media has not covered appointments in any systematic way, going instead for only the occasional article about a particularly egregious possible appointee or publishing opinion columns about who should be selected.
Over the past few days, Obama has continued to make announcements about who will serve on his staff or in White House positions. By and large, those selected are coming from the inside circle of Washington politicians. Ronald Klain–a former lobbyist and Clinton administration official–was named Vice Presidential Chief of Staff. Phil Schiliro was named Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. Schiliro formerly worked for Congressman Henry Waxman for 25 years. Obama picked longtime confidant Valerie Jarrett–who is a co-chair of his transition team–to be Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison. Jim Messina–a former Chief of Staff for Montana Senator Max Baucus and a supporter of the Bush tax cuts–was named Deputy Chief of Staff. Sharing that position is Mona Sutphen, a former Clinton aide.
Researching any of the appointees and their positions–let alone the complicated ways in which they might impact policy–is a daunting task. However, while this may deter some reporters from examining the transition, the government watchdog group Public Citizen has launched a new project that makes the task a whole lot easier.
The organization has launched Becoming44.org that tracks the actions of Obama’s transition. In addition to providing biographies and information about many of the appointees, the website has identified 19 prominent fundraisers and 27 lobbyists serving on Obama’s transition.