January 4, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Premature cabinet shakeup

With nearly three weeks until his administration officially begins, Barack Obama has already had to reshuffle his cabinet. Gov. Bill Richardson announced today that he cannot accept the position of commerce secretary, because of a continuing investigation into his dealings with a company that has done business with the government of New Mexico. Richardson apparently failed to fully disclose the nature of the FBI investigation to Obama staffers, who are no doubt miffed. See CNN.com. This puts Obama in an awkward position because he had already been criticized for not nominating enough Latinos to his cabinet. That being the case, and given the ethnic-identity obsession of Democrats these days, I would say the odds that Obama will name another Latino or Hispanic person to head the commerce department are somewhere between 90% and 95%.

Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado has named Michael Bennet to replace Interior Secretary-designate Ken Salazar in the U.S. Senate; see Washington Post, while the other two Senate vacancies (New York and Illinois) are still giving rise to heated controversy, to put it mildly. Gov. Blagojevich is not backing down from his defiant choice of Roland Burris to replace Obama, and no one knows what will happen next. On "Meet the Press" today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Blagojevich, but admitted that he and his collegues might have to accept Burriss eventually.

Lodging for the Obamas

First Lady-to-be Michelle Obama and the two daughters Malia and Sasha arrived in Washington over the weekend, as the spring semester begins at Sidwell Friends school tomorrow. Because the Bush White House declined to provide accommodations for the Obamas at the Blair House, as is customary for incoming First Families, however, they were forced to take up temporary residence at the nearby Hay-Adams Hotel. See Washington Post. Thus far, President Bush has shown uncharacteristic grace and dignity as he prepares to vacate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and I just hope this situation is an honest misunderstanding, and not a snub. We all remember what jerks the outgoing Clintonistas were in January 2001, and I hope the Bush staff lives up to higher standards than that.

Leary: Why We Suck

I noticed that on the Washington Post's annual list of "What's in and what's out" (see Friday) the Rev. Rick Warren's book [The Purpose Driven Life] is "out," while Denis Leary's book Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid is "in." I don't agree with Leary very often, and his brash urban style is not my cup of tea, but he is certainly very conscious of some of our country's most glaring defects. Of course, as long as we can get illegal immmigrants to do the work for us (!), we can go on being "Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid." See amazon.com.

Politics info pages

I have just updated four existing background information pages in the Politics category:
    U.N. Security Council,
    Foreign Leaders,
    Supreme Court, and
    Politics in Virginia,
and have added a new such page:
    The Presidency, featuring election results since World War II and a brief chronology of all 43 presidents up through the present.