Barack Obama sends us his Superman Jeff Bleich
EXCLUSIVE: Brad Norington, Washington correspondent
September 12, 2009
The US President will today announce Jeff Bleich as his choice to fill the vacant ambassador's position in Canberra.
The appointment of Mr Bleich follows a history of presidents favouring friends and political supporters for the comfortable diplomatic post.
But Mr Bleich's closeness to the Obama administration as a senior counsel to the White House since March indicates the importance placed on the US relationship with Australia.
It also reflects Mr Obama's growing bond with Kevin Rudd after the pair announced initiatives on climate change at the G8 summit in Italy in July.
Mr Bleich, 48, an over-achieving lawyer known for his work with more than 20 charity and community organisations, is likely to bring extraordinary energy to his new diplomatic job.
Currently on leave from his position as a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of legal firm Munger Tolles & Olson, Mr Bleich is a former president of the California State Bar and the San Francisco Bar Association.
He chairs the board of trustees at California State University and is adjunct professor at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.
Two years ago, a colleague from a rival law firm, Michael Tubach, remarked: "Basically, Jeff is Superman. He seems to be able to do everything."
Mr Bleich and his wife, Becky, have two teenage sons and a younger daughter.
Among colleagues, he is known for his "luminous" personality and fascination with Elvis Presley memorabilia, which adorns the walls of his law firm office among many degrees and awards.
A former student at Harvard, like Mr Obama, where he graduated with the highest honours, Mr Bleich met the future president 20 years ago when they were interviewed as potential clerks to the then chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Deeply involved in Democratic Party politics, he was present when Mr Obama jumped to prominence as an aspiring senator after giving a keynote speech at the party's 2004 national convention. The friends had breakfast together two days later.
When Mr Obama ran for president last year, Mr Bleich co-chaired his campaign in California, a state crucial to his eventual victory.
He was a key networking link for Mr Obama in California, introducing him to lawyers across the state and raising campaign funds.
Mr Bleich was a member of Mr Obama's national finance committee, and travelled to at least three states to help win votes during the campaign.
He was quoted in the San Francisco Bar Journal last year as saying: "I'm not getting a lot of sleep this year."
When Mr Obama asked him to be special counsel to the President in March, it was not the first time he had worked at the White House.
In 1999, he served then president Bill Clinton as director of the White House Commission on Youth Violence, following the shooting deaths at Columbine High School in Colorado.
For many years, Mr Bleich has been an advocate for the rights of children in foster care, performing pro bono work.
Earlier this year he was honoured for outstanding service to children and the community by the board of directors of Court Appointed Special Advocates in San Francisco.
Much speculation has focused on who Mr Obama would choose for the US ambassadorship to Australia. Over the past few months he has announced a string of ambassadors to China, Japan, Britain, France and other countries throughout Europe. But the post in Canberra has been left open since January after the departure of George W.Bush appointee Robert McCallum.
In the interim, the job has been performed by the embassy's charge d'affaires, Dan Clune.
In May, the US embassy in Canberra dismissed the suggestion Australia had been snubbed when it was not among a round of ambassadorial appointments made by Mr Obama.
At the time, an embassy spokeswoman said the order of nominations did not reflect which country was more important. "We've got a close relationship so the administration is looking to appoint someone who has the best fit as soon as possible," she told The Weekend Australian.
The Prime Minister is still to appoint the next Australian ambassador to the US, after announcing last month that serving ambassador Dennis Richardson would return to Canberra to become head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Several names suggested so far include former federal Labor leader Kim Beazley and former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr. Both have a keen interest in US politics and history, but Mr Rudd could opt for a professional diplomat or senior bureaucrat.
Although Mr Bleich's appointment still depends on official confirmation from the US Senate, he is unlikely to strike significant obstacles.
The Senate confirmed another lawyer and Obama campaign fundraiser, John Roos, as US ambassador to Japan.
Mr McCallum, the former US ambassador, was a college friend of Mr Bush. And his predecessor, Tom Schieffer, was a former business associate of the Republican president.
The US Democrats sent one of their top electoral strategists to Australia to overseer the Australian 2007 Federal election as did the Chinese Communist Party, who sent in excess of 100 Chinese Communist Party members to door knock crucial electorates with a high proportion of ethnic Chinese voters.
The 2007 Australian Federal election was a trial run for the 2008 US presidential election, both leftists party’s,the US Democrats and the Australian Labor Party,used almost identical,slogans and bumper stickers for their policy’s,eg. “working families” “change” “getting the balance right” “time for change” “hope”
None of the above slogans and bumper stickers have been delivered in Australia since the Australian electorate fell for the media generated tsunami proclaiming the God like qualities of Australia’s very own Messiah, Kevin 07 “I have never been a socialist” Rudd.
So I guess it’s no surprise Hussein Obama would select one of his “California Dreaming” left coast “community organizers” and Hussein Obama fund raiser’s to some plumb job down under, as a reward for his dedicated service to his Messiah’s Socialist cause.