Insider Report Blames White House's First Year Failures on Emanuel and the Obama's Inner Circle
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Financial Times Washington Bureau Chief Edward Luce has written a granularly informed insider account about those who hold the keys to the inner most sanctum of Obama Land -- Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod.
It's a vital article -- a brave one -- that includes "dozens of interviews with his closest allies and friends in Washington."
Most are unnamed because the consequences of retribution from this powerful foursome can be severe in an access-dependent town. John Podesta, president of the powerful, administration-tilting Center for American Progress, had the temerity and self-confidence to put his thoughts publicly on the record. But most others could not.
Mark Schmitt, executive editor of the liberal magazine the American Prospect, wrote that "Luce has written what seems to me the best and most succinct rundown of what's gone wrong in the White House, with particular attention to the role of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel." But some of the big aggregators out there -- Mike Allen at Politico and ABC's The Note among others -- didn't give Luce's juicy and lengthy essay any love.
Why not? Allen is a good friend of mine and tries to keep a good balance between tough-hitting political stuff, but also goes out of his way to give strokes to those in the White House he can -- particularly "Axe" -- who is a regular in Mike's daily Playbook. I try to do the same, to be honest, and have a particular thing for Bill Burton's wit and was pleased to see Rahm Emanuel giving David Geffen rather than Rick Warren lots of hugs during the Inauguration eve fests.
But this Luce piece is unavoidably, accurately hard-hitting, and while many of the nation's top news anchors and editors are sending emails back and forth (I have been sent three such emails in confidence) on what a spot-on piece Luce wrought on the administration, they fear that the "four horsepersons of the Obama White House" will shut down and cut off access to those who give the essay 'legs.'
But in the too regularly vapid chatter about DC's political scene, serious critiques of the internal game around Obama not only deserve review on their own merits but have to be read -- because Obama is not winning. He is failing and people need to consider why.
Any serious survey of the Obama administration's accomplishments and setbacks over the last year has to conclude that the administration is deeply in the red.
If current trends continue, this once mesmerizing Camelot-ish operation will be be seen in the history books as the presidential administration that -- to distort slightly and inversely paraphrase Churchill -- never have so many talented people managed to achieve so little with so much.
The entire article needs to be read, but to set the stage, here is the beginning of Ed Luce's portal into the heart of today's Obama machine:
At a crucial stage in the Democratic primaries in late 2007, Barack Obama rejuvenated his campaign with a barnstorming speech, in which he ended on a promise of what his victory would produce: "A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again."
Just over a year into his tenure, America's 44th president governs a bitterly divided nation, a world increasingly hard to manage and an America that seems more disillusioned than ever with Washington's ways. What went wrong?
Pundits, Democratic lawmakers and opinion pollsters offer a smorgasbord of reasons - from Mr Obama's decision to devote his first year in office to healthcare reform, to the president's inability to convince voters he can "feel their [economic] pain", to the apparent ungovernability of today's Washington. All may indeed have contributed to the quandary in which Mr Obama finds himself. But those around him have a more specific diagnosis - and one that is striking in its uniformity. The Obama White House is geared for campaigning rather than governing, they say.