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A Who's Who Of Who's Where

As John Podesta, right, and the rest of the transition team assigned West Wing offices, it wasn't surprising that senior adviser David Axelrod, left, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel scored prime spots near the Oval Office.
As John Podesta, right, and the rest of the transition team assigned West Wing offices, it wasn't surprising that senior adviser David Axelrod, left, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel scored prime spots near the Oval Office. (Associated Press)

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By Al Kamen
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proximity to power is power, they say. And some of President-elect Barack Obama's aides were jockeying furiously last week for those critical spots somewhere, anywhere, in the West Wing of the White House.

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No window? Fine. No bigger than a closet? No problem. Just a folding chair with a laptop? Sure, especially if it's in a corridor near the Oval Office -- okay, just somewhere in the wing.

The scrambling this time may have intensified beyond the usual tussling in order to accommodate Obama's large contingent of "senior advisers" -- there are no junior ones, save maybe for Malia and Sasha -- such as David Axelrod (who is closest to Obama's suite), Pete Rouse and Valerie Jarrett, and the new "czars," such as Tom Daschle for health care and Carol Browner for energy and the environment.

On the other hand, the Clinton White House crammed people in to accommodate former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's office on the second floor (Jarrett got that one) and her chief of staff. Rouse has taken the traditional deputy chief of staff's office, leaving Obama's two deputy chiefs of staff in a windowless interior office -- but that's how Karl Rove started out before he moved upstairs.

With the allocations all just about decided, some follow traditional patterns. For example, incoming White House counsel Greg Craig is taking the office of outgoing counsel Fred Fielding, who took it over from Clinton's counsel. Vice President-elect Joe Biden is in the office that Dick Cheney has until noon today -- and Al Gore had before that.

Obama's deputy national security adviser, Tom Donilon, is in what might be charitably called a broom closet, but it's the same cubby his immediate predecessors had. Incoming press secretary Robert Gibbs has the spacious office near the Cabinet Room.

The biggest losers are Daschle, who only got a basement office -- but has nice digs at the Department of Health and Human Services -- and Browner, who is across West Executive Avenue in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

It should be noted that many of the EEOB offices are high-ceilinged and spacious, with fine views to the south. On the other hand, a chunk of it, we're told, is under renovation.

The biggest winners, of course, are those on this map.

With Philip Rucker and Alice Crites


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