It’s already clear that the Obama administration will be doing things very differently, and this is reflected in the men and women the president has chosen to serve on his team. So far, they comprise one of the most diverse and talented groups to take the reins of government since Franklin D. Roosevelt assembled his “Brain Trust,” and those who have been appointed know they have an enormous task ahead as they deal with the economy, foreign policy, defense, and the terrorist threat.
Certain offices confer A-List status as a matter of course, whether their occupants are colorful – or duds. That’s why you’ll see the new vice president, attorney general and secretaries of state, defense treasury, and homeland security automatically replacing their Bush Administration counterparts. (We’ll miss the brainy and gracious Condoleezza Rice, but Hillary Rodham Clinton will also be “going places” – in both sense of the term.) Note also the addition of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist, and such key White House personnel as Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, and Peter Orszag, whose crucial roles as presidential advisors prompted us to eliminate our usual “wait-and-see” period. Even more groundbreaking is the début of the list’s first presidential mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, and first White House social secretary, Desirée Rogers. (A stylish New Orleans native, former TV host, and business executive, Mrs. Rogers would be a likely candidate for a Washington “Fashion A-List” as well.)
Congressional leadership is always well represented, and this year we note the inclusion of Rep. Barney Frank, who has played a formidable role legislating bailouts and stimuli to fix our foundering economy, and Rep. Eric Cantor, the Richmond-based House Republican whip who’s been making quite a name for himself in the loyal opposition. On Embassy Row, we said farewell to Britain’s Sir David and Lady Manning and France’s Jean-David and Marie-Cecile Levitte and now welcome their respective successors, Sir Nigel and Lady Manning and Pierre Vimont, to our diplomatic pantheon. Media stars on the rise include NBC’s newly-dubbed Meet the Press host, David Gregory, and New York Timesman David Brooks, also a major television presence.
Business and philanthropic clans bearing the names Cafritz, Graham, Marriott, Mars, and Rockefeller add an element of élan as they rub elbows, so to speak, with more recent powerhouses named Lerner, Leonsis, Snyder, and Sant. There’s a world-famous tenor (Plácido Domingo), a certified movie star (Robert Duvall) and even a queen: Jordan’s Noor Al-Hussein.
While our A-Listers don’t need to be rich, royal, or have a TV show, we count on their magnetism to ratchet up the “buzz factor” whenever they enter a room. All named here have what it takes to be a center of gravity (even many of the “husbands- and wives-of”) and we salute their distinctive presence on the Washington scene.
President Barack H. Obama and First Lady Michelle ObamaVice President and Mrs. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Jill)His Excellency the Ambassador of Kuwait, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah