Sweet Home Chicago Will Stay That Way for Obama

President-elect Barack Obama will keep his Hyde Park home as a White House getaway, he told reporters from Tribune Co. We understand there is little brush to clear. How will he relax?
President-elect Barack Obama will keep his Hyde Park home as a White House getaway, he told reporters from Tribune Co. We understand there is little brush to clear. How will he relax? (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
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By Al Kamen
Thursday, December 11, 2008

We learned some new details about President-elect Barack Obama yesterday, including that he will maintain his home in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood as a White House getaway for the first family. Kinda like Crawford, Tex., but without the brush.

"My Kennebunkport is on the South Side of Chicago," Obama said, referring to President George H.W. Bush's getaway in Maine during an interview with reporters from the Tribune Co. "Our friends are here. Our family is here. We are going to try to come back here as often as possible, . . . at least once every six weeks or couple months."

Obama did the interview in his sparsely furnished Chicago transition office with two basketballs on a bookshelf and another by the door. With most transition officials working in Washington, the Secret Service agents outnumbered the Chicago staff, the Tribune staffers reported.

When he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Obama said he plans to be sworn in using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

"I think the tradition is that [presidents] use all three names, and I will follow the tradition," Obama said. "I'm not trying to make a statement one way or another. I'll do what everybody else does."

Obama said that he and his wife have not started looking for a church in Washington but noted that he receives regular prayer phone calls from T.D. Jakes, pastor of a Dallas megachurch; Rick Warren, pastor of a California megachurch; and Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Crashing the Party

The rotten economy has caused many businesses and nonprofits to cut back on holiday parties. So a few dozen of the youngish foreign policy geeks who are members of the Council on Foreign Relations decided to throw their own bash at the super-trendy chocolate bar Co Co Sala in Penn Quarter.

The crowd, mostly in their 30s, was hanging out, having a good time, talking Darfur, Mumbai, Kirkuk and Putin, when some noticed a shaggy-haired, familiar-looking guy, boyish despite his gray hair, standing by the door waiting for someone. Knew him from somewhere but . . .

Then in comes Santa himself in the form of one Kurt Campbell, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, head of the Center for a New American Security, and most critical for job-seekers in this holiday season, an important player on the Pentagon transition effort. Turns out the other fellow was James Steinberg, reported to be the pick for deputy secretary of state.

The duo came to the attention of the partygoers, who scrambled for their résumés, but Steinberg and Campbell, showing superb battlefield awareness -- and recognizing an asymmetric power balance -- beat a hasty but dignified retreat to find a safer strategic environment where they could eat unmolested by importuners.

Podesta in the Pool

To Team Obama workers, it seemed the whole transition inexplicably slowed for a few hours there yesterday morning. No one could figure out why. Turns out, transition chief John Podesta was not in. He was cooling his heels down in D.C. Superior Court, waiting to see if he would be called for jury duty.

D.C has a one-day-or-one-trial system, in which residents spend a day in the jury pool and, if not picked, are off the hook for a couple of years. If picked, you're there for the duration of the trial. You can, as Podesta did, get one deferment. After that, you've got to show.

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