ThinkFast: December 18, 2008


I didn’t compromise my soul to be popular,” President Bush told Fox News in an interview yesterday. “Look, everybody likes to be popular,” he said. “I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don’t approve of the economy. … I’ve had, hell, a lot of serious challenges.”

At a press conference today, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to announce securities-industry regulator Mary Schapiro as his choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Obama also plans to name economic adviser Dan Tarullo to an open seat on the Federal Reserve Board and Gary Gensler to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) will not appoint anyone to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama. When asked if an appointment is forthcoming, Blagojevich’s lawyer Ed Genson said, “No. Harry Reid said that they’re not going to accept anybody he picks. Why would he do that?

Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist Muntader al-Zaidi has reportedly “apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for embarrassing him before the watching world.” Writing to Maliki, Zaidi pleaded: “I remember in the summer of 2005, I interviewed your Excellency and you told me, ‘Come in, this is your house.’ And so I appeal to your fatherly feelings to forgive me.”

A new military plan for troop withdrawals from Iraq presented to President-elect Barack Obama this week falls short of the 16-month timetable Obama outlined during his election campaign. The plan, proposed by Gens. David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, envisions withdrawing 7,000 to 8,000 troops from Iraq in the first six months of 2009, but “would leave 12 combat brigades in Iraq by June 2009.”

President Bush will convene a gathering of ex-Presidents next month to discuss the transition. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush will attend, along with Barack Obama. Dana Perino said “the gathering will be a chance for them to discuss life in the White House, politics, and domestic and world affairs.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) turned down a position in the Obama administration to be U.S. Trade Representative. “My concern is how much weight this position would have had, and I reached the conclusion that it would not be a top priority, or even second or third priority,” Becerra said. The Obama team “may have already soured on Becerra thanks to his hemming and hawing over the post.”

Media Matters named Sean Hannity the 2008 Misinformer of the Year. In bestowing the honor upon Hannity, the media watchdog organization writes, “Never has he so enthusiastically applied his talents for spreading misinformation as he did to the 2008 presidential race, focusing his energies primarily on President-elect Barack Obama.”

And finally: During a private gathering of former White House chiefs of staff, Vice President Dick Cheney — a former chief of staff to President Ford – had some sage advice for incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. “The best thing you can do is keep your VP under control,” he said, causing the room to break up in laughter.

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