WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama will be able to do things at "warp speed that no other president has been able to do in a long time," John Podesta, the co-chairman of the Obama transition team told me, basing his assessment "on the way he ran his campaign, the way he ran his transition."
Obama's smooth transition -- with only a few bumps along the way -- is the result of an organizational effort that began quietly last August when Podesta signed on. Big-picture thinking about what an Obama White House would look like started back in April, with Obama looping in just a few people.
Obama takes the oath of office Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States at a time when the economy is bad and Obama, in speeches, keeps warning that the situation will get worse.
Podesta, a Chicago native who grew up in Jefferson Park, served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Podesta told the Chicago Sun-Times the top task in the first 100 days of the Obama administration is "to get this recovery package through the Congress."
"We need to get jobs stabilized and grown again, and so I think it's going to be all hands on deck to try to move that recovery bill through. It's big, it's complicated, but it's aimed at the right questions: energy, education, restoring the infrastructure in the country and health care.
"Those are bridges to long-term goals of the Obama administration, so that it is critical that that get done and it get done quickly, and I'm quite confidant that it will be done before Presidents Day," Podesta said.
On other matters:
• • Obama may have a team of rivals in his Cabinet and top White House staff -- but he won't tolerate rivalry. Obama "demands" teamwork, Podesta said.
"The people who develop rivalries in the Obamaland? They don't do so good. You may not have noticed that during the course of the campaign. But people who are shooting at each other? They tend to get iced out," Podesta told me.
• • Incoming Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel "was always a candidate" for the job, Podesta said. "I think Obama always thought that he'd be strong. We talked about it right before the election. There were other people on the table; we had pros and cons, but I think he always had it fixed in his mind, said, 'he'd make a great partner in the White House.' "
• • Obama's first wave of foreign travel will take him to Canada at the end of the month; his first international summit will be in April at the "Group of 20" meeting in London, followed by NATO's 60th anniversary celebration.