On Ambassador Jacobson

Excerpted  Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News January 23, 2013 Obama to replace ambassador with ‘clout’

Jacobson handled border security issue

U.S. President Barack Obama will be sending a new ambassador to Canada this year, a move that could have ramifications for Canada-U.S. relations.

On Tuesday, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa said it’s expected Ambassador David Jacobson’s term will not be extended. Traditionally, they said, two-term presidents send a new ambassador to Ottawa for the second term. They added that no decision has been made on Jacobson’s successor, or exactly when that new ambassador will be appointed.

The departure of Jacobson, who arrived in Canada in October 2009, could leave a significant hole.

He is a former Chicago lawyer who was a senior fundraiser for Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign, and has continued to have clout with the president.

Jacobson has been a leading player in helping Canada and the U.S. smooth over some bilateral irritants. Perhaps most significantly, he was a crucial force behind advocating for the Canada-U.S. border deal that tightens security while also speeding access at the border. He has also developed a strong personal rapport and working relationship with Gary Doer, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who once worked at Canada’s Embassy in Washington, said in an interview Tuesday that the bilateral relationship benefited thanks to Jacobson.

Jacobson was unknown to most people when Obama won his first presidential election. He had been Obama’s deputy finance chairman during the campaign.

In the first few months of Obama’s presidency, he worked in the White House Personnel Office, helping the president fill dozens of diplomatic postings before his nomination as ambassador.

“Jacobson, because of the personal relationship, clearly had clout,” said Robertson. “You want an American ambassador who can pick up the phone and get through to the White House – to the president or the chief of staff. And Jacobson had those attributes.”

The major accomplishment during Jacobson’s term was the achievement of a “Beyond the Border” agreement signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Obama.

Under the deal, both governments are embarking on pilot projects to adopt a joint “perimeter security” approach to protect the border.

In addition to guarding against terrorism, the Canadian government hopes the agreement will ease cross-border traffic congestion so that the two countries can trade goods on time.

Robertson said he doesn’t think the deal would have been struck without Jacobson’s work behind the scenes.

“The prime minister was pushing it, and Jacobson intervened a couple of times with the White House.”…

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The Inaugural Address

Even Solomon interviews Colin Robertson and Democratic strategist Tony Welch on Power and Politics.

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Building the President’s Administration

Obama’s inauguration: How presidents build teams iPolitics Insight

By | Jan 20, 2013
See also  Globe and Mail January, 20, 2013

Will Obama appoint the first woman to Ottawa?

“The president shall nominate and, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.”

— US Constitution, Article II, section 2, clause 2

In setting the agenda for his second term, President Barack Obama’s first order of business (which has already started) is cabinet-making and putting names to the more than 5,000 jobs in the Executive subject to noncompetitive appointment, some of which require Senate approval. These positions, as well as the several thousand that are the prerogative of the Legislative branch, can be found in the Plum Book published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

When John F. Kennedy was President, only about 280 executive branch positions required Senate approval. That number has since escalated into four digits, despite Senate agreement last year to streamline the nomination process by exempting about 170 positions that do not involve policy-making.

The most important positions, all of which require Senate consent, are the cabinet secretaries. In order of precedence (with current incumbent in brackets) they are: State (Hillary Clinton), Treasury (Timothy Geithner), Defence (Leon Panetta), Justice (Attorney General Eric Holder), Interior (Ken Salazar), Agriculture (Tom Vilsack), Commerce (Rebecca Blank is acting secretary), Labor (Hilda Solis), Health and Human Services (Kathleen Sibelius), Housing and Urban Development (Shaun Donovan),Transportation (Ray LaHood), Energy (Steven Chu), Education (Arne Duncan), Veterans Affairs (Eric Shineski), Homeland Security (Janet Napolitano).

For now, the only cabinet members who have indicated they want to stay for the second term are Secretaries Napolitano, Shineski, Sibelius and Attorney General Holder.

President Obama has nominated Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democrat standard-bearer John Kerry as Secretary of State, former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Their confirmation hearings will begin in the coming weeks.

Cabinet-level positions also include the White House Chief of Staff (Jack Lew, who is Obama’s Treasury nominee), Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Jeffrey Zients), Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Lisa Jackson, who is stepping down), U.S. Trade Representative (Ron Kirk), Ambassador to the United Nations (Susan Rice), Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (Alan Krueger) and Administrator of the Small Business Administration (Karen Mills). They serve at the pleasure of the president with an annual salary of $199,700.

All of these positions are important and Canadian cabinet ministers and senior civil servants should get to know their counterparts because it’s all about relationships.

The job that most directly affects Canadians, of course, is the U.S. ambassador. It is a position that also must be confirmed by the Senate.

Nomination hearings can be the stuff of Hollywood screenplays — a packed room with a full complement of senators both defending and ‘prosecuting’ the nominee. This is often the case with judicial appointments, as I witnessed during the confirmation hearing for Justice Samuel Alito in January 2006.

But as often as not, they are routine — almost cavalierly so — as I saw with the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere subcommittee nomination hearing in May, 2005 for South Carolina Speaker David Wilkins. He became the second Bush ambassador to Canada.

Chair Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican senator, was the sole member on the dais. Wilkins’ advocates, essentially character witnesses, were led by the senior senator from South Carolina, Lindsay Graham, with two senators — Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Jim DeMint of South Carolina — speaking their support.

There was a brief statement about Canada-U.S. relations and his objectives from Speaker Wilkins, a few questions from Senator Coleman on security, ballistic missile defence, border transit and the problems encountered by Minnesota fishermen on Lake of the Woods (a reminder that all politics is local). It was over within 36 minutes.

Full committee and Senate confirmation followed quickly and there was a celebratory send-off for Wilkins in the Benjamin Franklin room on the eighth floor of the State Department. Franklin is considered to be the father of the American foreign service.

The current U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, was a businessman-lawyer from Chicago who served on the Obama fundraising team and then in the Office of Personnel Management of the Obama White House. The latter responsibility meant he was involved in all of Obama’s senior appointments. Jacobson’s own nomination was delayed when then-Democrat Senator Chris Dodd put a hold on consideration of his appointment because of unhappiness with another appointment.

Ambassador Jacobson has done a superb job stick-handling the ‘irritants’ and ‘transactionals’, ranging from granny-chasing IRS agents to ballast water on the St. Lawrence. He also played a lead role in the design, negotiation and implementation (still incomplete) of initiatives aimed at regulatory alignment and making border access easier for people, goods and services. His successor will have to carry this forward.

From a Canadian perspective, we want an ambassador who has the confidence of the president and the ability to pick up the phone and get through to the White House. Jacobson and his immediate predecessors have had this capacity.

Two of them — Jim Blanchard of Michigan (Clinton) and Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts (Bush 43) — were former governors. David Wilkins (Bush 43) had served as speaker of the South Carolina Legislature while Gordon Giffin (Clinton) was a businessman-lawyer and elector from Georgia who had served as a senior advisor to Senator Sam Nunn.

The New York Times recently published a photo of President Obama and senior advisors. They’re all men — and so are the proposed new top foreign and defence policy cabinet members and chief of staff. It is a sensitive point — the White House followed up the NYT photo with one of their own that included women advisors. So we may soon see the first woman named as U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Who that might be? Several names are in play:

  • Christine Gregoire, former Washington state governor and architect with then Premier Gordon Campbell of the ‘smart driver’s license’. She knows Canada very well and would be a logical nominee but she is likely to be offered a cabinet position.
  • Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan Governor and someone very familiar with the border and the Windsor-Detroit Second Crossing, which awaits a presidential permit before construction can begin. Born in Vancouver, she also might be put in cabinet.
  • Olympia Snowe, former three-term moderate Republican Senator from Maine, who chose not to run in the recent election. She knows border issues very well.
  • Michele Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy of the United States and founder of the Center for New American Security. She has instant credibility on security issues.
  • Maryscott Greenwood, managing director at a Washington law firm (for which I work) and leading light of the Canadian American Business Council. If Howard Dean had become president in 2004 she likely would have become his ambassador to Canada. She has intimate knowledge of Capitol Hill and experience in Canada-U.S. issues since her time in a Foreign Service posting in Ottawa during the Clinton administration.

As for men?

  • Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a folksy but shrewd speaker and strong supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline and the alliance with Canada. He also would be in contention for a cabinet job.
  • John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff and transition chief for the first Obama administration. Currently chair of the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank that acts as a bullpen for the White House, Podesta is no fan of the oilsands.
  • General (ret.) Chuck Wald, former Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, a fighter pilot and a former Atlanta Falcons draft pick. He is now with Deloitte and active on the defense policy think tank circuit.
  • Anthony Foxx, the Charlotte, North Carolina African-American mayor who hosted the successful Democratic convention in September.

Any one of these individuals could carry on the work of Ambassador Jacobson. That many have held office at the municipal or state level underlines another feature of the American system of government: it’s much more of a progressive ladder for office-holders than in Canada. Four of the last six presidents were governors and this year’s GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, served as governor of Massachusetts.

It all serves as a reminder of the importance of involving all Canadian elected officials, especially those at the federal, state and territorial level, in reaching out to their American counterparts to advance Canadian interests. You never know where those people will wind up. Early connections can pay rich dividends. But it’s up to us to take the initiative.

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The Inauguration

What Canadians need to know about the second Obama inauguration iPolitics Insight

By | Jan 18, 2013

The American Constitution is a sacred secular document. And so, pursuant to the XXth amendment to the Constitution, at noon on Sunday, January 20th, likely in the Blue Room of the White House, President Barack Obama will place his left hand on two stacked Bibles — one used by Abraham Lincoln and the other by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Raising his right hand before Chief Justice John Roberts, he will “swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” George Washington added the phrase “so help me God” to the 35-word vow and few presidents have departed from this tradition.

Moments beforehand, likely at the Naval Observatory that is the vice presidential home, Vice President Joe Biden will take his oath of office from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Thus will formally begin the second Obama administration.

The Ceremony

The theme of this year’s inauguration is ‘Faith in America’s Future’. The inaugural events begun Thursday night and continue through the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend with the main events on Monday evening.

Because January 20 falls on a Sunday, the inauguration ceremony takes place Monday on the western steps of Capitol Hill. Civil servants in the District of Columbia and adjacent Maryland and Virginia suburbs get a holiday.

Shortly before 11 a.m., the president will travel by limousine from the White House to the Capitol. For the first inauguration, George Washington designed a coach of state with a military escort and an entourage of worthies including foreign emissaries.

Until 1936, the inauguration took place on March 4, originally to give the Electoral College time to meet after the election. After the long lame-duck period between Herbert Hoover’s defeat in November 1932 and Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration in March 1933, the Constitution was amended to set January 20 for the inauguration and January 3 for the start of the new Congress.

From the inauguration of the first Democrat president, Andrew Jackson, in 1829, the ceremony was performed on the east side of the Capitol Building, facing the Supreme Court and Library of Congress.

Ronald Reagan, with an eye for the camera, decided to move the ceremony to the west side with its splendid vista looking straight down the Mall to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It has stayed on the west side of the Capitol ever since.

In 2009, a record 1.8 million people showed up on the National Mall to watch the inauguration of the first African-American President. This year it is estimated the crowd will be 600,000 to 800,000.

The formal ceremony will begin with the U.S. Marine Band (probably playing ‘Hail to the Chief’), followed by a choir and the call to order by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee for the Inauguration. Civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams will give the invocation, then the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir will sing. Vice President Biden will then be sworn to office, then James Taylor will sing.

Then comes the presidential oath of office, the Inaugural Address, a song from Kelly Clarkson, a poem from Richard Blanco (a tradition that began with Robert Frost reading ‘The Gift Outright’ to John F. Kennedy in 1961), then a benediction from Reverend Luis Leon, pastor of St. John’s Church of LaFayette Square, the ‘church of the presidents’ since James Madison, before Beyonce sings the national anthem concluding the official ceremony.

After the inauguration, the president, vice president and guests will go back into the Capitol Building for a lunch hosted by the Congress, a tradition that began with the first Eisenhower inaugural.

On the menu this year: steamed lobster with New England clam chowder sauce, followed by hickory-grilled bison with red potato horseradish cake and wild huckleberry reduction and, for dessert, Hudson Valley apple pie with sour cream ice cream, aged cheese and honey.

The Parade

Then comes the parade — a procession of marching bands and floats that started with Thomas Jefferson’s second inaugural when he rode to the Capitol surrounded by mechanics from the Navy Yard and a military band. Teddy Roosevelt’s parade included an estimated 35,000 participants, including the Rough Riders with whom he charged up San Juan Hill.

The parade starts at the Capitol complex, down Constitution to Pennsylvania and finishes up after passing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a.k.a. the White House.

The best vantage point is from the roof of the Canadian Embassy. While working there, I watched the second Bush inaugural. Our guests included newly-elected West Virginia Governor (and now Senator) Joe Manchin, former speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John McCain.

McCain had marched as an Annapolis midshipman in the second Eisenhower inaugural. He knows marching bands like no one I have ever met and he provided colour commentary from the balcony for nearly an hour and a half. The level of political detail was mesmerizing — why a particular band from a particular state was selected to march. It was very cold and his daughter, who lived in Toronto, came out and encouraged him to come in from the cold. He smiled and told her that he’d been in “worse situations”.

For austerity reasons, President Barack Obama is cutting back on the number of inaugural balls. There will be two official balls plus a concert honoring military families. The bigger ball, at the Washington Convention Center, is expected to draw 35,000. The entertainment will include Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Marc Anthony, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, the cast of ‘Glee’ and the youth gospel choir Soul Children of Chicago.

Probably the most rambunctious celebration took place after the inauguration of Andrew Jackson when, according to a contemporary account, “the president was followed from the Capitol to the White House by a motley mob — black and white — who pressed into the mansion to see the new president of the people … They clambered upon the satin furniture with their muddy boots for a better view…”, breaking the china and taking home bits and pieces as souvenirs. As Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story observed, “I never saw such a mixture. The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant.”

There will be souvenirs aplenty, including a presidential medal, but Canadians will appreciate an inaugural toque as a practical memento.

The next morning there is a prayer service, a tradition that dates back to George Washington. Since Franklin Roosevelt it has been held at the National Cathedral where such notables as Woodrow Wilson, Cordell Hull and Helen Keller are interred.

The Speech

The Inaugural Address sets the vision for the administration.

When successful — as with Lincoln, FDR and JFK — it is a call to action with ringing phrases that become part of our dialogue. For my generation, it is John Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

The shortest inaugural speech was that of George Washington. At 135 words, he observed that: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” The longest address: 8,600 words, delivered by William Henry Harrison in 1841. He caught a cold and died of pneumonia a month later.

At 2,421 words, Obama’s 2009 Inaugural Address was slightly longer than Reagan’s first inaugural, but almost 30 per cent longer than Franklin Roosevelt’s, 80 per cent longer than JFK’s and three and a half times longer than Lincoln’s second inaugural.

There is a three-part pattern to the speeches.

In time of a change in party, they begin with praise for America’s democratic commitment to peaceful and orderly transition. In time of continuity, they underline the American ability to come together after a hard-fought campaign.

The second part describes the problems facing the nation and the world and this segues into the third part — underlining the American capacity for innovation and the strength of American institutions. Americans’ ability to solve problems when they put partisanship aside is critical. As Lyndon Johnson said in 1965, “If we succeed it will not be because of what we have, but it will be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but rather because of what we believe”. Then the president will usually appeal to a Higher Power and continuing trust in God.

The first Obama speech underlined change, the theme of his successful campaign and called for a “new era of responsibility”. Having received a majority of the votes cast (the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter) and with control of both houses of Congress, it all seemed possible.

Obama talked about casting aside the old debates and spoke of a more pragmatic, less ideological approach to government. He acknowledged race but did not make it or civil rights the central theme. He took on the Bush preoccupation with security, saying, “We don’t have to choose between our safety and our ideals.” He told America’s enemies, “We will defeat you.” There was a sense of the potential for transformational change with an emphasis on unity, conversation, expertise, and knowledge.

It’s hard for a second inaugural address to capture the promise of the first. Expect some reference to freedom. It is the 150th anniversary since the Statue of Freedom was placed atop the partly constructed Capitol Dome in 1863, during the Civil War. Lincoln, the first Republican president, is one of Obama’s heroes and the Lincoln collection of speeches has furnished many presidents with quotable quotes.

During the campaign, President Obama talked about the fiscal cliff and need for tax and entitlement reform, immigration reform and, in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, gun control and attention to mental health.

Don’t expect them to feature in the inaugural address. It is a vision document.

The blueprint for action comes in the State of the Union address. Speaker John Boehner has invited the president to deliver his legislative agenda before Congress on February 12th.

While Obama may no longer have the star power he enjoyed in 2009, he starts his second term with favourable ratings. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has just published a survey that places his job-approval rating at 52 per cent and his personal favorability at 59 per cent, up from the high 40s.

This is in contrast to the Republican leadership, including Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Republican Party’s image, which reached a 42 per cent favorable rating following the GOP convention, has fallen to 33 per cent.

Obama faces a much more skeptical and frustrated public than he did four years ago: only 33 per cent expect economic conditions to get better over the coming year. Although the public expects more bipartisan cooperation, only 23 per cent expect Republicans and Democrats will work together more in the coming year.

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On the nominations of John Kerry and Chuck Hagel

Excerpted from Embassy New Baird, MacKay US counterparts could be Vietnam vets.by Sneh Duggal Wednesday, 01/09/2013

United States President Barack Obama’s picks for his next secretaries of state and defence are good for Canada because both bring with them years of experience and some knowledge about their northern neighbour, say former diplomats and other observers….

Mr. Obama announced Dec. 21 that he had chosen 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry to become the next secretary of state. Mr. Kerry is a Massachusetts Democrat and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He would replace US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said she will not seek a second term.

On Jan. 7, the US president also announced his pick of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to replace US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who announced the same day that he was stepping down.

If their nominations are approved, it would mean that two of the Obama administrations’ most internationally-focused secretaries would be Vietnam War veterans. Mr. Hagel would be the first Vietnam vet to lead the military.

The US Senate would need to confirm both nominees.

Foreign Minister John Baird “looks forward to working with Senator Kerry to continue building on the important relationship with our closest ally, biggest trading partner, and next-door neighbour,” wrote Joseph Lavoie, a spokesperson for Mr. Baird, in an email to Embassy.

Mr. Baird was quick to send out congratulatory remarks to Mr. Kerry on Dec. 21. The foreign minister sent out two tweets: the first one congratulated Mr. Kerry, while the second read that “I would also like to wish @JohnKerry the best of luck during the confirmation process—and I hope to see him soon.”

‘Knowledge of Canada’

Adam Chapnick, deputy director of education at the Canadian Forces College, said it would be important for Canada that Washington push through the confirmation process as quickly as possible.

“We have an interest in a stable, predictable international order, so having either of the positions…unfilled for any significant period of time is therefore not helpful to us,” Mr. Chapnick said.

Former diplomat Colin Robertson said that if their nominations go through, it would be important for Mr. Baird and Defence Minister Peter MacKay to make personal contact with their American counterparts quickly.

This could mean a telephone call of congratulations, “followed by a personal meeting preferably in Washington rather than at a multilateral forum where they will be besieged by others with the same objective,” said Mr. Robertson, who is currently a senior strategic advisor with McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP.

“I think it’s always good to have experienced knowledgeable practitioners and Hagel and Kerry are both of those, and they also both have some knowledge of Canada,” Mr. Robertson said.

“These are the kinds of appointments that will work to a good relationship, you want people like this, and you don’t want people that are having to learn everything from the start,” he said, noting the importance of both having the president’s confidence.

Those following Canada-US relations and politics say that Mr. Kerry’s approval process should go smoothly…

Mr. Robertson said Mr. Kerry and Mr. Hagel’s interactions with their Canadian counterparts would likely be more bilateral on the defence side and more multilateral on foreign affairs topics.

He said that in both cases they would start with issues such as what is happening in Syria, how to deal with Iran, and then other places like Libya, Afghanistan, and Myanmar…

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