In an interesting tidbit near the end of the NYT's main transition story, the paper says the Obama team is feeling pressure, particularly from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, "to 'co-own' the bailout program." Paulson has allegedly sought Obama's advice on who should direct the program, in hopes that the same person can stay on in the new administration. For his part, Obama isn't eager to join hands with Bush in an unpopular bailout package. In a front-page piece, the WP notes that some say the reason the Treasury still hasn't officially announced its plan to broaden the range of financial companies that would be eligible for an infusion of cash from the government, which the WSJ detailed earlier this week, is because officials want to make sure Obama agrees. Administration officials say that's simply not true. Still, one thing is clear: The Treasury has reserved some office space for Obama's team, but no one has moved in yet. The NYT says some Democrats are pushing Obama "to stay aloof," which apparently was Franklin Roosevelt's strategy before he took over during the Depression.
What has Obama's victory meant for negotiations with Iraqi leaders on the new security agreement? Depends on whom you believe. The NYT says that Obama's election has drastically changed the mood to optimism and that the agreement could be signed as early as the middle of this month. The WP, on the other hand, talks to Iraq's chief spokesman and says Iraqi officials appear to be using Obama's election "to pressure the Bush administration to make last-minute concessions," specifically insisting on a firm withdrawal date for U.S. troops. According to the NYT, Iraqi officials used to think that Republicans wouldn't respect any timetable that is included in the agreement but now have more faith that Obama would. Also, Iran appears to be exerting less pressure on Iraqi politicians to reject the agreement, apparently because officials in Tehran are less concerned that an Obama administration would seek regime change in their country. For its part, the WP says Iraqis are insisting they need to return to the negotiating table, but U.S. officials insist they've accommodated Iraqi concerns as much as possible in what was described as the "final text" of the agreement.
Feel like crying this morning? If so, head on over to the WP,which gives big play to the story of Eugene Allen, a black man who worked at the White House for more than three decades. The WP's Wil Haygood admirably tells Allen's story while also giving a quick history lesson of blacks in the White House. But it's the unexpected tragic ending that hits you right in the gut. There's no way around it: Obama must give Allen VIP tickets to the inauguration.
And if you need a pick-me-up after your eyes have dried, the LAT's P.J. Huffstutter writes an amusing piece about his experience being a part of Obama's "protective press pool." Huffstutter was on duty for almost 12 hours yesterday and got to see the president-elect a grand total of 71 seconds. In the end, he was rewarded when Obama was gracious enough to give a monosyllabic answer when the reporter asked how one of his meetings went: "Good."