On Jan. 20, President Obama inherited a nation in financial turmoil and waging wars on two fronts overseas, which made a quick, smooth transition imperative.
Obama has been working hard to select his Cabinet and administration to stand beside him through that shift. But several of the people he selected to navigate those challenges hit bumps in the road during the confirmation process. Obama's initial picks for secretary of Commerce and secretary of Health and Human Services had both withdrawn by early February. Several chosen by the president also faced questions about their taxes as their histories were examined in the early weeks of Obama's presidency.
Here are Obama's picks:
Former Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. was officially announced as Obama's secretary of state Dec. 1, just months after she lost her own historic bid to become the first female president. On Jan. 13, Clinton faced tough questions on her husband's charity work during her confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate but was confirmed the day after Obama's inauguration. During the primaries, Clinton and Obama fought each other over foreign policy, especially the Iraq War. Clinton voted to authorize President Bush's use of force against Saddam Hussein in 2003, but during her campaign, she denounced the war. Perhaps the most infamous episode during the campaign occurred when Clinton claimed in a speech that on a trip to Bosnia in 1996, she had landed under "sniper fire." Only a video from her trip later showed that Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, had walked calmly off the plane in Tuzla, forcing her to take back her words. Clinton served as New York's junior senator beginning in 2001, and sat on the Armed Services, Budget, Health, and Environment and Public Works committees. In 1996, Clinton published her best-selling book, "It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us." She won a Grammy award for the recorded version.
Susan Rice, picked as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has her work cut out for her. Under the Bush administration, relations between the U.S. and the U.N. became strained, with many unhappy with the unilateral goals of the U.S. government and the means with which it pursued them -- including the invasion of Iraq. With a new administration, there is a hope at U.N. headquarters that "business as usual" with the United States will change. Rice's experience in government includes serving on the National Security Council during the first Clinton administration, where for two years she was special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs. In 1997, she became assistant secretary of state for African Affairs. During her tenure, the twin embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania took place, giving her exposure to al Qaeda. In 2002, she joined the Brookings Institution and during the 2004 presidential campaign, she was an adviser to Sen. John Kerry. During the 2008 presidential campaign, she was a top foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama, and it appears that her counsel, wisdom and advice, along with her experience, have earned her the trust of President Obama.