Have you noticed that we haven't seen much of our new president, Barack Obama? We've seen him only twice, really, since his election: his post-election press conference and at the White House with President Bush. We get a peek again on Monday when he meets with vanquished foe John McCain.
So what's up? Democratic analysts say what's happening is a good thing. The reason: He is giving an image of deliberation minus showmanship as he whittles down his major cabinet picks. "It looks like he's very serious about taking over, not somebody seeking the limelight," says one associate. Another benefit of staying out of the public eye: The press can't pepper him with questions that might sidetrack the Presidential Transition Team, or PTT. Sure, us reporters hate it, and the pattern is sure to continue in the White House. But insiders say that the business of government is going quickly and smoothly in part because of the lack of distraction that might come if the president-elect were seen everywhere, answering every question.
And it's not just the president-elect who's playing it close to the vest. There are tons of rumors about the cabinet picks, but only those that the PTT want in play are in play.
For example, when we reported how Democrats were urging Obama to pick Sen. Hillary Clinton for secretary of state or Pentagon boss, there was no effort to kill it. And now we see her name on the short list for state. Ditto for when our pal Politico reporter Mike Allen named Robert Gibbs as the likely new White House spokesman; the campaign fed the rumor in multiple stories. By the way, we understand that if Gibbs is the man, his able national spokesman, Bill Burton, will likely serve as his deputy. And we hope he adds Democratic National Committee Communications boss Karen Finney as one of the two or three deputy press secretaries a White House typically carries.