Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama's new team & Hollywood celebrate Obama's Victory.

Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a key member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's call to serve as his chief of staff, party officials said yesterday.
"I announce this appointment first because the Chief of Staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda," said Obama, who was elected on Tuesday. "And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel." Advertisement
Choosing Emanuel was one of Obama's first decisions after becoming president-elect.
The hard-charging fellow Chicagoan accepted the job after struggling over family and political considerations. By moving into a top White House job for a second time, Emanuel will have to put aside hopes of becoming speaker of the lower chamber.
The son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the pre-state Irgun, Emanuel was a key figure in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, where he was known for his blunt management style. His selection is a shift in tone for Obama, who chose more low-key leadership for his presidential campaign.
In the tense talks with the Palestinians at Wye Plantation in 1998, the Israeli team headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was especially wary of one of President Bill Clinton's aides - Rahm Emanuel. His fluent Hebrew, his instinctive grasp of the "Israeli" mind set and above all his complete loyalty to his boss made the Israelis afraid to talk near him.
Ten years later, Israel's next prime minister will meet Emanuel in a loftier post, as Obama's chief of staff.
"He has a kind of directness and coarseness that is very familiar to Israelis," a veteran Israeli diplomat told Haaretz yesterday. "But it doesn't necessarily bring him closer to us. One thing is certain - Israelis will not be able to pull the wool over his eyes."
Emanuel's quick rise to a party leadership position in the House underlines his political acumen, and his choice by Obama points to the president-elect's preparations to move quickly on getting his legislative agenda through Congress. Emanuel will play a major role in facilitating and selling Obama's plans.
In his previous positions Emanuel was in charge of political and domestic issues, but in Clinton's administration in 1993, as senior presidential adviser for domestic affairs, he also dealt with foreign policy, which was important to the president. For example, he produced the Oslo Accord's signing ceremony on the White House lawn.
Of all the Israelis he came into contact with during his career, the ones he became closest to were Rabin's close aides, including the Prime Minister's Office director Shimon Shevess. The two are still close friends.
Israeli officials are divided in their opinions about his involvement in foreign affairs in general and the Middle East peace process in particular. The chief of staff usually focuses on the president's political work.

She was one of his earliest and most prominent supporters. So when Barack Obama's final moment of victory came, it was no real surprise that Oprah Winfrey, the hugely influential cultural arbiter and queen of daytime television, let the tears stream down her face.
"This is one of the greatest moments I could ever imagine," said the Chicago native in broadcast remarks as she celebrated with thousands of others in Obama's adopted home city. "It feels like hope won. It feels like it's not just a victory for, obviously, Barack Obama. It feels like America did the right thing. It feels like there's a shift in consciousness."
"I made a vow not to use my show as a platform so I supported Barack Obama as a private citizen," she said on her show Wednesday morning. "But now the election is over and I am unleashed."
Brad Pitt was among the other stars present at the celebration Tuesday night in Chicago, though there was no sign of Angelina Jolie.
Perhaps she was one of the many celebs who were turned down for tickets to what was easily the hottest event of the year. An Obama campaign spokesman said that for every celebrity in attendance, 10 had to be turned away.
Among those who did make it was director Spike Lee.
"It's a great day, it's a beautiful morning, a new dawn, a new beginning - not just in America but the world over," he said.
Their words words may have sounded like cliches, but that should be forgiven, argued Michael Moore, the leftwing filmmaker whose documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" is credited with helping to turn the tide of public opinion against George W. Bush and the Republican administration.
"Who among us is not at a loss for words?" he wrote on his website. "Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair."
He was one of many stars that helped get out the vote for Obama - from Sarah Jessica Parker to Ben Affleck, and from Bruce Springsteen to of the Black Eyed Peas. Along with others like Justin Timberlake, they comprised a throng of stars who volunteered for Obama throughout the campaign.
Many celebrated through the night at a celebrity party in Los Angeles hosted by actors Courteney Cox and David Arquette. The partygoers included "Friends" TV show co-star Jennifer Aniston, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher.
In New York, film producer Harvey Weinstein hosted a fete attended by Salman Rushdie, TV presenter Matt Blanc and actress Jessica Alba among others.
"I came to live in America in 1999, and in a way I feel I got cheated," Rushdie said. "Immediately afterwards I got 9/11 and eight years of Bush. I thought, can I please have America back, and we are about to get it back now. It feels great to have a sensible, intelligent, stylish man in the office."
Though the support of Hollywood's biggest names has rarely proved decisive in US presidential elections, there are many signs that this year their involvement had a positive effect.
In both previous elections, Bush successfully pilloried their support as that of a small liberal elite that did not reflect "real America".
This time Hollywood again raised millions of dollars for the Democratic candidate. But with millions of young voters flocking to the polls like never before, the public support of the movie icons and pop stars that they admired could not be marginalised.
Superstar George Clooney has also been an outspoken supporter of Obama.
"I congratulate president-elect Obama on his historic victory, and now it's time to begin unifying the country so we can take on the extraordinary challenges that this generation faces," said Clooney in a statement.
Other stars were also quick to recognise the historic moment.
"This will go down in history, in black history, for all of the sacrifices that the great Joseph Lowery and Martin Luther King made.
This actually pays off for their sacrifice ... I'm speechless. I don't even know what to say," said singer-song writer Usher.
US rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs said the election gave him an unprecedented sense of power: "I felt like my vote was the vote that put him into office ... And that may not be true but that's how much power it felt like I had," he said.
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