There's Still Time for Bubba

By Al Kamen
Monday, October 12, 2009

The focus on Friday was all about how undeserving President Obama, with so little accomplished after almost nine long months in office, was of the Nobel Peace Prize. Naturally, a broad spectrum of voices -- from the Taliban and Hamas to GOP chief Michael Steele -- promptly criticized the Norwegians for awarding the prize to the newbie. There were numerous calls for Obama to reject the award and that $1.4 million check.

And there were many who sympathized with someone who had to have been the most unhappy person on Earth on Friday morning, former president Bill Clinton -- second only perhaps to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bill Clinton had plenty of claim to that award -- Middle East peace efforts, to name just one example -- but once again the Norwegians snubbed him. Even worse, that one-termer Jimmy Carter has won the prize. Clinton's deputy dog, Al Gore, also received it. And now Obama wins? It's all a bit much.

Clinton, post-White House, even set up the Clinton Global Initiative, which surely should have rocketed him up on the ratings, but this, too, hasn't worked. At least he can take solace that he's in a group that includes Mohandas K. Gandhi (the committee tried to award it to him after he was assassinated, but the prize tends to go to living recipients who can show up for the photo op and donate the money). And President Ronald Reagan, whose determination to build a nuclear-free world was noted by Obama in his U.N. speech last month -- but not Friday -- also never won.

Now Clinton finds himself like a baseball player persistently failing to get the votes needed to enter the Hall of Fame. Under the rules there, though, you have 15 years to get voted in by the baseball writers association. (You still have a shot of getting voted in by the old-timers committee, however.) Fortunately, the committee in Oslo doesn't impose a time limit. You're eligible at least as long as you're breathing.

What-Dot-Gov?

Don't forget to enter the Loop rebranding contest to help agencies adopt catchier Web addresses, ones that might come to mind when people think about those agencies, so it's easier to remember how to find the sites.

In addition to spook.gov for the CIA, one entry Friday suggested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- now at the clunky http://fws.gov -- use critters.gov. Send your suggestions -- maximum two per entrant -- to rebrand@washpost.com or In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Winners will receive a fabulous Loop T-shirt and acknowledgment in the column. Don't delay: The deadline is the close of the day, as in midnight, on Wednesday.

Remember, to be eligible for this contest, you must include a phone number -- work, home or cell -- so we can contact you.

Good luck!

Not Moving In . . .

Lorelei Boylan, an official in New York state's Labor Department, is withdrawing as a candidate to head the U.S. Labor Department's Wage and Hour Administration. Her nomination had been held up since April because of her involvement in a small but controversial program called Wage Watch, but we're told she's withdrawing to stay in New York to deal with family issues.

Not Moving Out?

White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, rebutting persistent rumors in recent months that he's leaving the administration amid reports of schisms over issues involving detainee policy and closing Guantanamo Bay, says he's not going anywhere.

"I have no plans to leave whatsoever," Craig told the National Law Journal in an interview Friday. "The rumors that I'm about to leave are false. The reports that I'm about to leave are wrong. I have no plans to leave."

Moving In?

The Department of Homeland Security directorate of science and technology is moving office furniture around these days, apparently to fit more folks into available space. Buzz has it that the musical chairs is even going on in the suites on the Vermont Avenue side reserved for the top officials. We're told that Tara O'Toole, whose nomination to be undersecretary of that operation is being held up in the Senate, has picked out some snappy blond furniture to grace the potential undersecretary's office.

But a DHS official assures us that O'Toole "did not direct anyone to move furniture."

The Budapest Beat

President Obama said Friday that he will nominate Northern California businesswoman Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, a member of one of California's largest Democratic donor families and a major Hillary Clinton backer -- reportedly raising more than $1 million for her campaign -- to be ambassador to Hungary. She's president of one of California's largest land-development firms and actively involved in conservation issues.

Jobs to Be Had

Fall is in the air. And that means the window of opportunity for the administration to fill top vacancies is quickly closing. As it stands, a number of agencies are limping along with many of the top offices empty. Only 10 of the 24 jobs at the Commerce Department that require Senate confirmation have been filled -- there's one nominee at the Senate and the White House has announced one other. Only eight of 15 Department of Veterans Affairs jobs that require Senate confirmation are filled.

The total of announced, nominated and confirmed officials -- of the 507 posts being tracked by The Post -- grew by only 18 for all of August and September. The number has grown by only nine since Oct. 1.

Go to http://washingtonpost.com/headcount to keep track of Obama's nominations.

Research editor Alice Crites and graphics editor Karen Yourish contributed to this column.

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