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The agenda: Great expectations

The Los Angeles Times tackles the issue of Obama managing the high expectations for him. "The high visibility of old hands and familiar faces underscores a tension that is already running through Team Obama: The president-elect has promised to overthrow Washington's habits of partisanship and cronyism. But it's tempting to turn to seasoned veterans to help him avoid the kinds of rookie mistakes that hobbled Clinton and President Carter. Both learned the hard way that a Congress controlled by the president's party does not guarantee smooth sailing."

"President-elect Barack Obama will not meet any foreign leaders attending the global financial summit in Washington, but Obama aides would likely be tapped for meetings, a top Obama adviser said on Tuesday," Reuters reports.

The New York Times: "Coming so soon after last week's election, the summit meeting has proved an uncomfortable moment for the president-elect and an early test of his handling of international diplomacy. Even as aides are still closing his campaign headquarters and just beginning to assemble a governing team, they are fending off interest from foreign governments eager to take the measure of the next president and trying to avoid tying him to the departing administration. Several Obama advisers, in separate interviews, all used the word 'awkward' to describe the situation. But Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said: 'While some may say it's awkward that he's not there, it would be far more problematic to be there. We firmly believe there is only one president at a time.'"

"Aides to President-elect Barack Obama distanced themselves on Tuesday from reports that President George W. Bush had pressed Obama to back a free trade deal with Colombia in exchange for help for the struggling automobile industry. … 'I would characterize our relationship as collegial,' said John Podesta, co-chair of Obama's White House transition. 'Whatever happened this morning was the result of reports which I think were not accurate.'"

With all the advice President-elect Obama is being given (whether he's asking for it or not), "what's a president-elect to do when confronted with a blizzard of conflicting counsel and competing priorities, particularly if he's to avoid overtaxing Congress's limited attention span?" the Boston Globe's Lehigh asks. "Well, keep in mind that most basic of axioms: Dance with the one that brung ya. If there was one issue that gave Obama traction in this campaign from the beginning, it was his opposition to the Iraq war. Aside from the endless discussion about whether and how to meet with foreign rascals and rogues, the war was certainly the largest general-election foreign-policy difference between Obama and McCain. As president, Obama needs to stay focused on a careful, phased withdrawal from Iraq."