Well-oiled, but leaking


What’s up with Team Obama? The well-oiled campaign machine hasn’t transfered into a well-oiled transition machine. The problem is the age-old one – leaks.

Obama has not officially announced any Cabinet appointments, but transition officials reluctantly confirmed Thursday that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is Obama’s choice for the Department of Homeland Security.

Officials also have confirmed that former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota would be nominated as health and human services secretary, and that Eric Holder will likely be named attorney general. And Thursday night, officials were confronted with unconfirmed talk that retired Gen. James Jones could be tapped for national security adviser.

I would have no patience with it were I in Barack’s shoes, but these things are hard to control – especially when these guys often do a great deal of deliberate leaking.

For nearly two years, Obama’s political inner circle took great pride in the dearth of public reports about personnel moves, fundraising numbers and staff friction inside his campaign. That control has all but dissolved in the leak-centric world of official Washington.

Every day since Nov. 4, a member of the president-elect’s transition staff alerts reporters by e-mail of the planned activities for Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden. And invariably, those events are more or less ignored, in favor of the latest leak of the identity of the newest proposed member of the Cabinet or White House senior staff.

“There is nothing they can do about it; vetting and FBI background checks require a lot of calls and that leads to leaks,” said Steve Elmendorf, a longtime aide to former Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and now a lobbyist in Washington.

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