Friday, February 01, 2008

Who is in Obama's Entourage?

My aunt asked me if I knew who and what Obama would bring with him, if elected. She made the valid point that everyone knows Hillary's advisers - but who exactly is advising Obama?

UPDATE: I found an instructive and informative Chicago Tribune piece highlighted here.

Well, I'm reading his second book - The Audacity of Hope. And with her question in mind, I turned to the acknowledgments. And it's a pretty impressive list - I recognized three right off the bat.

Here's the run down -

Cassandra Butts - met Obama at Harvard Law in the financial aid office. She was a senior advisor to Dick Gephardt where she worked on the 1998 Impeachment as well as the response to the 9/11 attacks while he was Minority Leader. She also formulated Gephardt's universal health care plan for his presidential campaign. She is now a SVP for domestic policy at the liberal think tank group, The Center for American Progress.

Forrest Claypool - is a Cook County Commissioner for the 12th District. In the late 1980s he was Chicago Mayor Daley's chief of staff (Michelle Obama also worked for Daley).

Julius Genachowski - Current CBO of a company, IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns a bunch of interactive web site including,, (Barry Diller is CEO). He serves on the board of a group called "Common Sense Media." Was a former staffer for FCC Commissioner Reed Hundt, a law clerk to both David Souter and William Brennan, an executive with USA Networks. Worked for Charles Schumer (when in the House) on investigating Iran-Contra. Met Obama while on the staff of the Harvard Law Review (Obama was president).

General Scott Gration - This general voted for Bush in 2000 and is now a friend and active support of Obama's. Is the son of missionaries and raised in the Congo, he is fluent in Swahili. He is 32 year veteran of the Air Force and served in many of the hot spots in the Middle East. I highly recommend this Newsweek piece from August 2007.
Those who fall in with the Barack Obama campaign tend to fall hard for the man himself, and none more than Jonathan Scott Gration. A recently retired Air Force major general who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, Gration accompanied Obama on a 15-day tour of Africa last August and was, he says, simply bowled over. When the two traveled to Kenya, the homeland of Obama’s father, the U.S. presidential candidate directly confronted President Mwai Kibaki over corruption.
Newsweek notes that the other two military advisors to Obama are along with Richard Danzig, the former secretary of the Navy during the Clinton administration, and Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff.

Robert Fisher - ? (probably not the chess player bobby fisher)

Michael Froman - another Harvard Law classmate and former chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin.

Donald Gips - ?

John Kupper - a partner in David Axelrod and David Plouffe's political public relations firm, AKP&D. He worked for Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL) and Rep. Henry R. Reuss (D-Wis).

Anthony Lake - Probably the best know, Lake was President Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser from 1993-1997. Was nominated to be C.I.A. director in 1997, but nomination was withdrawn due to Republican opposition (The possibilities boggles the mind - if the post had not gone to George Tenet....). He did the first - and most honest - mea culpa on Rwanda (read here).

Susan Rice - A familiar face, she's been on MSNBC a lot advocating for the Obama campaign. She is on leave as a Senior Fellow of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank. She is a former assistant secretary of state for African Affairs under Clinton (1997-2001). You can read some of her commentary and research on Africa, poverty as a transnational threat and human right here at the Brookings web site. She is also a Rhodes Scholar.

Gene Sperling - Currently the Senior Fellow for Economic Policy and Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Council for Foreign Relations. He was also a former economic advisor to the Kerry campaign and under the Clinton Administration he was a National Economic Adviser and Head of the National Economic Council. See full bio at the Council for Foreign Relations.

Cass Sunstein - His was a name I recognized, probably because he is a contributer editor to The New Republic. Like Obama Sunstein is a Harvard Law School grad who teaches at University of Chicago Law School (he was born in 1954, Obama in 1961). Clerked for Thurgood Marshall. Author of several books including, most interestingly, he Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever (2004).

Jim Wallis - He's another name I knew. In 2005, he gained notoriety for his book, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. You've probably seen him on Meet the Press and other news programs. PBS's Frontline interviewed him for their program The Jesus Factor which you can read here.

Can any one fill in the blanks? Have any other background to add?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Robert M. Fisher is an Assistant Director in the Office of International Affairs (OIA) at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Dr. Fisher is both an attorney and an economist. He is responsible for SEC technical assistance to emerging markets, which includes sharing best regulatory practices, assistance on draft regulations and statutes, answering inquiries from foreign regulators on SEC practice and the provision of training to foreign regulators. Among other things, he oversees and participates in various training institutes and programs held both in the US and abroad for regulators from emerging markets. Prior to his present position, Dr. Fisher served as a financial economist in the SEC’s Office of Economic Analysis, where he worked on policy-related issues and in support of enforcement. Before joining the SEC, Dr. Fisher’s legal career included stints at the law firms of Skadden Arps et al., Sidley & Austin, and Fried Frank et al. At Fried Frank, where he served as Special Counsel just prior to joining the SEC, he worked with Harvey Pitt and specialized in “white papers” covering various securities matters. While his primary area of practice has been securities law, he has also worked on telecommunications, anti-trust, railway, international trade and banking matters. He clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams at the US Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. Dr. Fisher also has experience as a consultant, working as a “practice manager” at a for-profit corporate think-tank known as the Corporate Executive Board, where he oversaw various teams of consultants providing best practice studies (largely to Fortune 500 companies.) One such study was entitled: “Strategic Challenges in the New Economy: Twelve Driving Forces” (1999). His education includes a Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University (1982) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (1991, magna cum laude). His academic experience includes teaching economics as an associate professor at the College of the Holy Cross and stints as a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, a research fellow at the Australian National University and a tutor at the University of Adelaide (South Australia). He also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he co-taught a course on Global Securities Markets. Dr. Fisher has published one book, entitled The Logic of Economic Discovery. It is an exploration of economic methodology."