- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sounds familiar

Some in the news media have been comparing the daunting challenges Barack Obama faces in his presidency to those of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Great Depression, a comparison that the president-elect’s critics consider far-fetched.

But Touchstone Books has just republished a compilation of FDR’s speeches and articles titled “Looking Forward,” which originally appeared in 1933, and the publishers say “the echoes of FDR’s own words can be detected in many of President-elect Obama’s recent speeches and actions.”

You might say, almost word for word.

Roosevelt stated in his first inaugural address, “This nation asks for action, and action now.”

Last month, in an address on YouTube, Mr. Obama said, “We need action — and action now.”

Politics of scandal

“The Rod Blagojevich pay-to-play scandal has only not eliminated any chance that Bill Richardson can ride out his own home-state scandal to win Senate approval as commerce secretary, but also made the selection of a replacement more difficult, because Republicans will seek to capitalize on even minor vulnerabilities of the next nominee, according to sources close to the Obama team,” Thomas Edsall writes at www.huffingtonpost.com.

“Transition officials have been aware from the start of the problems Richardson faces stemming from a federal investigation into a California financial services company, CDR Financial Products LLC. The investigation was first publicly reported over four months ago. Only recently, however, has the Obama team decided that Richardson’s problems are fatal, as the Blagojevich affair has created incendiary conditions,” Mr. Edsall said.

“The controversies involving Blagojevich and Richardson demonstrate the continuing potential of ‘the politics of scandal’ to undermine the ability of those in power to make policy and to govern on the basis of victory at the polls.”

Photographer in chief

Pete Souza, assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University and former photographer for the Chicago Tribune, has been named the official White House photographer for the Obama administration.

Mr. Souza, who accepted the offer from incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, believes the relationship he’s had with President-elect Barack Obama for the past three years gave him the edge on the job.

“I think the transition team felt that I would be a good fit for this job,” said Mr. Souza, a White House photographer during the Reagan administration. “I’m excited to go back as the chief photographer, which I wasn’t before. I feel I have a good grasp of what it takes to visually document the president for history’s sake.”

Mr. Souza arrived in Washington this week to begin assembling a team of staff photographers, Ohio University said in a press release.

Mr. Souza’s relationship with Mr. Obama began in 2005 when he started covering the senator for the Chicago Tribune. He accompanied Mr. Obama on trips to seven countries and his photographs have won multiple awards in the pictures of the year International contest and from the National Press Photographers Association.

Most recently, his photos were published a hardcover book, “The Rise of Barack Obama,” which made the New York Times best-sellers list.

Mr. Souza, who joined Ohio University in 2007, is taking an extended leave of absence from the classroom but does plan to return.

What a mess

Roland Burris, it appears, “was chosen legally, by the person with the sole authority to make the appointment - the governor,” the Chicago Sun-Times said Tuesday in an editorial that also bemoaned Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s decision to make the appointment, as well as the interjection of race into the controversy.

“The Senate Democrats have pledged to fight his appointment, though U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday said he was leaving the door open to negotiations.

“Here’s the top of our wish list: Burris bows out and Illinois holds a special election,” the newspaper said.

“But if that doesn’t happen, we would like to see Burris agree to serve just two years, stepping down when Obama’s Senate term expires. Then the voters could finally weigh in.

“If Burris runs in 2010, our prediction is that he will lose, and not necessarily because he is an African-American candidate trying to win statewide. More likely, Burris will be felled by his own mediocre record and his connection to the disgraced Gov. Blagojevich.

“If Burris is truly taking this job for the benefit of the people of Illinois, as he insists, he’ll do the honorable thing - not take it.

“This is not about race. This is not about Burris.

“This is about standing up for fair play.”

New limousine

President-elect Barack Obama is getting a new ride to go with his new address Jan. 20, Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reports.

General Motors Corp. recently delivered to the U.S. Secret Service a brand new presidential limousine, replacing the 2006 model Cadillac DTS presidential limousine that President Bush has used.

The new limousine, dubbed the 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine, will make its debut on Inauguration Day. It’s the first presidential limousine not to carry a specific model name, said GM spokesman David Caldwell.

GM declined to say how many it was building for the U.S. government, but it’s believed to be fewer than 25.

Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, confirmed that the new Cadillac limousine would make its debut Jan. 20 during the inauguration, but declined to elaborate on the new vehicle’s improvements or specifications.

The new limousine has larger windows and better visibility for the president, Mr. Caldwell said. But it is roughly the same size and “footprint” of the previous model.

Mr. Obama will use the limousine during the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue after his swearing-in on the west side of the Capitol.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] .com.

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