Michelle Obama Not Interested in Being ‘Co-President’

November 10, 2008


Michelle Obama has no interest in being a “co-president.” Barack Obama will consider Republicans and current members of the Cabinet for top positions in his administration.

And as soon as the president-elect makes decisions about those jobs, he’ll announce them.

Those are the predictions of Valerie Jarrett, who probably knows
more about the inner workings of the Obama transition operation than
anybody other than the Obamas themselves.

The trusted family friend and co-chair of the transition team talked
to Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press” this morning, where she was – as
always – fiercely discreet about details.

But she also offered some clues from the closest possible vantage point.

Jarrett said that the economy and national security
are top priorities as Obama puts together a team that can be ready to
go from day one.

Other presidents have waited until December to announce personnel
and appointment decisions, she said, but Obama has made top priorities
of efficiency, transparency and bi-partisanship.

He’ll make announcements as he makes choices, she said.

Still, one of Obama’s key traits is that he doesn’t like to
“telecast” what he’s going to do until he’s ready to make a decision,
she said.

That said, Obama is open to considering Republicans and current
members of the administration, she suggested, noting that Doris Kearns
Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals,” about the Lincoln Cabinet, is one of
Obama’s favorite books.

“He really believes in having people around the table who have
differences of opinions,” she said. “It’s important to him to have that
kind of breadth at the table.”

The Cabinet is a “jigsaw puzzle,” she said, and Obama wants to make
sure it represents the diversity of the country in terms of personal
perspective, race and geography.

“He’s looking for talent wherever he can find it,” she said. “He wants to put together the best team he can find.”

Brokaw asked about the irony of making Rahm Emanuel – the scrappy
Illinois congressman with the acid tongue – the chief of staff in an
administration that’s supposed to be about civility and bi-partisanship.

“That’s part of the change we’re talking about,” she said, laughing.

“The tone starts at the top,” she said. “President-elect Obama has
made it clear he wants an administration that reaches out, is

Emanuel, she said, “embraces President-elect Obama’s philosophy.”

In addition, Jarrett said that Obama is consulting former president
Bill Clinton as he makes his plans, and that Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton has spoken with Michelle Obama about being first lady.

So will Hillary Clinton, who took a strong interest in policy and
politics in the early days of her husband’s administration, be a model
for Michelle Obama in this new role? Or will she be more like Laura

“Her model will be Michelle Obama,” Jarrett said of her longtime friend. “She will be her own first lady.”

She’ll focus on work-life balance, on volunteerism and on the plight
of military wives, Jarrett speculated. First and foremost, she said,
the transition on Michelle Obama’s mind will be the one her two
daughters are going through.

She won’t be focused on being part of a “two-for-one” deal, like the one the Clintons proposed at first.

“Michelle is really not interested in doing that,” Jarrett said.
“Having a seat at the table and being a co-president is not something
she’s interested in.”

Source: Swamp Politics

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