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Focus on the Game, Not the Team Picture

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By Al Kamen
Thursday, February 5, 2009

Okay, so President Obama says he "screwed up" on the Daschle nomination. After hitting the ground running on Jan. 20, the team went splat less than two weeks later.

But forget that. There's a beautiful spread of photos by the incomparable Annie Leibovitz in the new issue of Vanity Fair that's not to be missed.

Many of the usual suspects -- economic czar Lawrence H. "Why Does This Man Look So Depressed?" Summers, the enviro empress Carol M. Browner and the always fabulous Valerie Jarrett -- are there with the Cabinet and much of the Obama gang.

There's a fine shot of former health and human services nominee Thomas A. Daschle looking quite chipper. The photos, shot at Obama's transition headquarters, were taken over seven days, before, during and after the inaugural celebration.

Unlike the New York Times Magazine spread a couple of Sundays ago, which featured 52 individual, full-page portraits, the Vanity Fair portfolio was grouped by subject area. There's the enviro team, the economic team -- even the first lady's team -- but there was no sign of some major foreign policy players, such as top foreign policy aide Denis McDonough or national security adviser James L. Jones or CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta.

Could be the foreign policy folks were too busy with real work to take the time? Come to think of it, given the week he's having, maybe Obama might want to ban any more photo shoots -- others are surely in the works -- so people can focus on the tasks at hand?

Impressive Résumé, No Job

Some may think the faltering economy has focused pain only on the construction industry or Midwest autoworkers and other productive Americans. But it has affected most everyone, judging from Campbell Brown's interview with former attorney general Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales on CNN earlier this week.

"What does it say to you right now that you've had trouble finding a job since you left public office?" Brown asked. Gonzales quit 17 months ago. "Most people would leave public service with many opportunities. Why not you?"

"With respect to employment, listen," Gonzales replied. "I can understand in a very tough economy, some employers are going to be very hesitant about bringing someone like me on when you have ongoing investigation. That is why I am working as hard as I can with my legal team to try to get these investigations completed as quickly as possible, because I am anxious to move on to the next phase of my life. I feel like I still have a lot to contribute to our community and to our country, and I want to do so."

The Bush administration created 3 million jobs and not one lousy job for Gonzales?

Moving In . . .

Robert M. Sussman, a climate change expert at the Center for American Progress, is returning to the Environmental Protection Agency, where he was deputy administrator during the Clinton administration. As second in command at the agency, Sussman was a key player in global warming science policy as well as environmental aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Sussman told colleagues that he will become senior policy counsel to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, advising her on climate and environmental issues across the agency.


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