Monday, January 19th, 2009
James Besser in Washington
Who will be appointed Jewish liaison in the incoming Barack Obama administration?
The position sometimes seems like it should merit combat pay; the White House liaison is the poor guy or gal who has to interface with Jewish organization leaders, every one of whom believes he or she should have instant access to the White House, and deal with a community that is deeply divided on a host of big issues, from Mideast peace to school vouchers and aid to parochial schools.
Word on the street is that the leading candidate is Eric Lynn, a former congressional aide who was an early member of the Obama campaign team, and helped manage a Jewish outreach effort that ultimately produced overwhelming support for the Democrat despite persistent whispering campaigns meant to undercut that support.
But word also is that Lynn would like the position upgraded from its current sorry status. The Jewish liaison job once went to well-known community leaders and government veterans – like Marshall Breger, the law professor and former Ronald Reagan aide who had an extensive executive-branch resume when he took on the liaison job.
But in recent years it’s been mostly a kind of executive-branch entry-level job for wet-behind-the-ears kids young enough to be the children – and sometimes grandchildren – of the Jewish machers they deal with as liaison to Jewish groups.
Lynn, according to several reports, wants input into policy matters, including Mideast policy, if he takes the job. His track record during the campaign suggests that his appointment as Jewish liaison would immediately upgrade the position.
Lynn’s partner in the campaign’s Jewish outreach effort, Dan Shapiro, is expected to land at the National Security Council, where he focus on Mideast issues. Shapiro served in the NSC under former President Bill Clinton.