-- Who's got the power?
Washington is a tribal town, and the election of a new chief — make that commander in chief — is sparking the most extensive reordering of influence and access since George W. Bush moved in eight years ago to take over from the Clinton administration.
"The changes are not only symbolic," says Stephen Hess, a veteran White House staffer whose latest book, What Do We Do Now? A Workbook for the President-elect, was published last week. The election returns prompt realignments at the White House and federal agencies, on Capitol Hill and in K Street lobbying firms. "A game of musical chairs," Hess says.
Many Republicans are out of luck, their party having lost not only the White House but seats in the House and Senate for the second election in a row. Among Democrats, Barack Obama's chief primary rival, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has scrambled to make amends by campaigning for him. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman finds himself in a political no-man's land: The Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2000 became an independent and spent months stumping with Republican nominee John McCain.
Then there are the big winners — those who supported Obama early or filled critical roles in his path to the White House. They instantly become Washington's most sought-after guests for everything from Saturday night parties to Sunday morning TV talk shows.
Some of those who have the president-elect's ear and trust are obvious: His wife, Michelle, took a potent if largely private role in providing advice at critical points of the campaign. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate and Obama's political godfather, urged his junior colleague to make a presidential bid when others counseled caution. And whoever emerges as Obama's point person on the nation's financial crisis will tackle the administration's most pressing immediate concern.
Some winners are less obvious, including a 76-year-old Indiana Republican who will be an unlikely ally of Obama's in the Senate, and a 5-year-old Washington think tank that's poised to be both resource and scold for the incoming administration.
A look at seven of Washington's rising power centers during the Obama administration: