Articles

Organizing the White House Is Obama's First Test

December 16, 2008

As he organizes his presidency, Barack Obama continues to receive glowing reviews. Three out of four Americans approve of how he's handling his transition.

But organizing and operating the White House will be a much bigger challenge than he can possibly yet understand.

Consider national security. Mr. Obama's team has the advantage of inheriting procedures and structures that stretch back to President Harry Truman's 1947 reforms, which created the National Security Council. But there's historically been tension over the roles of the national security adviser and secretary of state. How that tension is resolved depends largely on the able National Security Adviser-designate, James Jones.

Mr. Jones has been Marine Corps commandant and NATO supreme allied commander, posts whose occupants are treated as demigods. How easily will he fit into a staff role? Will Mr. Jones see his responsibility as ensuring the president receives a broad range of options, or will he put a higher priority on advocating his own substantive views? Could Mr. Jones's personal relationship with so many top brass undermine Secretary Robert Gates's control of the Pentagon during what could be Mr. Gates's last year at Defense?

FULL ARTICLE: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122956235082116649.html

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