Washington, Dec.2 : In almost a month since he became the U.S. president-elect, Barack Obama has taken the lead -- and some say the reins -- from President George W.Bush.
Presidential historians and political analysts say they cannot recall a time in the past 75 years when a president-elect has had so large a role as Obama, whose growing transition team often appears more prominent than the actual team in power.
"There is really only one de facto president, and we finally have accepted that -- that it's Obama," said FOX News contributor Fred Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard.
According to Fox, Obama has made great theater of his Cabinet appointments, setting up a shadow government to rival the president's team as he prepares to move into the White House on January 20.
As Bush dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India to address the terrorist attack in Mumbai, Obama announced his nomination of New York Senator Hillary Clinton to succeed her.
The announcement was made on Monday at his fifth press conference since the November 4 election.
No president-elect has held so many briefings during a transition. The last three presidents-elect held that many -- combined.
Obama has already prepared the trappings of his office -- including an official placard and seal of the president-elect -- though it is purely ceremonial. Legally, he has no authority prior to his inauguration.
Obama may be the most active president-elect since Franklin Roosevelt, who entered office in 1933 after a stock market crash and amid an economic catastrophe.
"I think it really is a reflection of the times," said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, arguing that Obama has been forced by circumstances to step up his role in managing the financial crisis.
"Normally presidents-elect try to avoid getting into policy, stepping on the toes of the president who's there. That's how Obama started. It's changed, and I think the main reason for the change is the market tanking" in mid-November," he said.
"In this particular time of financial crisis, it's a good thing that Obama is calming the markets and the public, showing that he's amply preparing to take over," said Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
Some observers in Washington say Obama's prominence is a result of Bush's near invisibility of late.
While Obama proclaimed the strength of Indian democracy in the face of last week's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Bush was abroad in Peru on a valedictory trip to a financial summit in Latin America.
"Usually a president doesn't abdicate before January 20. I think [Obama] is trying to fill in the vacuum," said Stephen Wayne, professor of government at Georgetown University.