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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Rahm Israel Emanue ’s father l"My son will not “clean the floors of the White House” like an Arab

Illinois Congressman Rahm Israel Emanuel, a key member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s call to serve him as chief of staff, party officials said on Thursday.

Obama barely had time to savor his victory before he began filling out his new administration and getting a sobering look at some of the daunting problems he will inherit when he takes office in just 10 weeks.

He got a quick start with the transition Wednesday, calling on Emanuel, a fellow Illinois politician, to serve as White House chief of staff.

Emanuel, who served in the Clinton White House, has Israeli family and spent significant amounts of time in Israel. He now serves as the fourth-highest member of the House of Representatives, is known as a skilled political operator who helped engineer the gains the Democrats made in Congress in 2006.

In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," he was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House."

The Ma’ariv article also quoted Dr. Emanuel as saying that his son spends most summers visiting in Tel Aviv, and that he speaks Hebrew, but not fluently.

Obama’s staff said he would address the media by the end of the week, but Cabinet announcements were not planned that soon.

In offering the post of White House chief of staff to Emanuel, Obama turned to a fellow Chicago politician with a far different style from his own, a man known for his bluntness as well as his single-minded determination.

Emanuel maintained neutrality during the long primary battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, not surprising given his long-standing ties to the former first lady and his Illinois connections with Obama.

With hundreds of jobs to fill before his January 20 inauguration, Obama and his transition team confronted a formidable task complicated by his anti-lobbyist campaign rhetoric.
The official campaign Website said no political appointees would be permitted to work on "regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration."

Because they often have prior experience in government or politics, lobbyists have routinely filled out the list of potential appointees for past presidents of both parties.

The day after the election there already was jockeying for Cabinet appointments.

Several Democrats said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who won a new six-year term on Tuesday, was angling for secretary of state. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss any private conversations.

Kerry’s spokeswoman, Brigid O’Rourke, disputed the reports.

In light of the financial crisis, Obama is expected to quickly name members of his economic team. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who served in the Clinton administration, and Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, are among the names being mentioned for Treasury secretary.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has pledged to work with Obama to ensure a smooth transition. He has already set up desks and phone lines at the department where Obama’s incoming Treasury team can work between now and the inauguration.

Obama’s transition team is headed by John Podesta, who served as chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton; Pete Rouse, who has been Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate, and Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the president-elect and campaign adviser.

Several Democrats described a sprawling operation well under way. Officials had kept deliberations under wraps to avoid the appearance of overconfidence before the election.
They said the group was stocked with longtime associates of Obama, as well as veterans of Clinton’s White House.

As president-elect, Obama begins receiving highly classified briefings from top intelligence officials Thursday.

Already, Russia was threatening to put missiles alongside US-ally Poland if US President George W. Bush’s plan for a missile defense shield in Europe is not repealed. In Afghanistan, US-backed President Hamid Karzai demanded that Obama "put an end to civilian casualties" by changing US tactics to avoid airstrikes in the hunt for terrorists.

The Jerusalem Post

Obama's attack dog Rahm Emanuel