As the transition turns, relations grow sour?

Seeming to be the day after President-elect Obama met with President Bush at the White House, the relationship between the two men has become a bit contention over leaks originating from Obama’s circle of advisers over what went down in the private meeting.

Video report from CBS News:


Report from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama suggested to President Bush that the administration immediately provide extra help to struggling U.S. automakers, aides to the Democrat say, in their first face-to-face meeting since Election Day.

Obama’s aides said the president-elect brought up the issue with Bush during their two-hour White House talks on Monday, expressing his view that action is needed now, not just to help the U.S. companies but also the broader economy, because of their enormous reach. Obama raised the idea of an administration point person on autos with a portfolio aimed at improving the long-term health of the companies.

Bush repeated his position, recently stated by staff, that he is open to helping the automakers.

In addition, amid discussions in Washington over whether new economic stimulus spending is needed, Obama focused in his meeting with Bush on his desire for it while the president stressed that his main priority for any postelection action out of Congress is approval of a long-stalled free trade agreement with Colombia, said people familiar with the conversation between the two men. The sources declined to be named publicly because of the private nature of the talks.

The outlines of the conversation between the 43rd and soon-to-be 44th presidents shows just how starkly different are policy and philosophical approaches of the two men, one Democrat and one Republican. Obama has opposed the Colombia free trade agreement while Bush has remained skeptical of the need for additional stimulus.

Reflecting the delicate dance of a meeting between outgoing and incoming presidents — one still in charge and one about to be — neither man made the kind of direct requests of nor dealmaking commitments to the other that could violate unspoken protocols covering the transfer of power in American history. But each made sure the other knew what they want.

“In no way did the president suggest that there was a quid pro quo,” said White House press secretary Dana Perino. But, she added, “he did talk about the merits of free trade.”

Obama transition chief John Podesta also said “there was no quid pro quo in the conversation” between the two men and called news reports to that effect “not accurate.”

Perino said Bush described the meeting as “constructive, relaxed and friendly,” covering problems at home and abroad and his personal pledge for a smooth transition.

Some news reports are making it out to sound as if Obama is acting like he’s President already and demanding Bush to make policy changes. Who knows the truth since leaks from anonymous sources are questionable, at best.

For the record, Obama’s presidential transition team is denying any reports of tension between President Bush and President-elect Obama.

Meanwhile, President-elect Obama has continued appointing positions and naming names, the report from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama has hired former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn to help shepherd his Pentagon transition, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Nunn, a former Georgia senator and veteran Democratic defense adviser, was once rumored as a potential running mate for Obama. Transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Nunn will perform “an informal senior adviser role throughout the defense transition process.”

Nunn’s role has been described by others, speaking anonymously because the transition teams have not been announced, as the leader of Obama’s defense transition. Similarly, a senior administration official said former Secretary of State Warren Christopher would advise Obama on his State Department transition.

Obama’s national security transition offices will work with the outgoing Bush administration to hand off management of two wars and complex diplomacy with North Korea, Russia and other nations. Obama has not announced his choices to be defense secretary and secretary of state.

Nunn and Christopher would be part of a national security brain trust for Obama that is heavy on former Clinton administration officials, including possible national security adviser James Steinberg, a former State Department official.

At the Pentagon, the large transition office would likely include former Clinton Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and former Clinton-era Pentagon comptroller Bill Lynn, officials said. The announcements are expected later this week.

“There’s a lot of disinformation out there,” Cutter said. “We’re working hard to put the agenda review teams together and expect they’ll be announced and inside the agencies by the end of the week.”

Clinton Pentagon officials turned think tankers Michele Flournoy and Kurt Campbell are also mentioned as part of the Obama transition office at the Pentagon. Clinton-era State Department officials Wendy Sherman and Tom Donilon are mentioned in similar roles at State.

For the most part, things seem to be going very smooth since President Bush has assured the nation that he wants a smooth transition. I think the debates are stemming simply from the fact that Obama and Bush may currently have differing policy stances and the press is, perhaps, taking sides on those issues. Just an observation.