Monday, January 24, 2011

(Updated) "Blaming Rahm"

UPDATE: I just finished reading Heilemann's piece and it's worth reading from the beginning to this paragraph at the end:
Nowhere in the Constitution is the spinning of yarns enumerated as a responsibility of the president of the United States. Yet the most successful of them in our recent history—Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton—were all masters of the art. For a variety of reasons, Obama lost his storyteller’s touch, and also his connection to what made so many vest so much hope in him to begin with: his apparent capacity to lift the country up and calm it down at the same time. Has he figured out how to reclaim that brand of mojo? Not yet, not fully. But at least he understands he must, which is a start. “It’s kind of like with a 12-step program,” says the grandee. “Before you can begin fixing your life, you have to admit you have a problem.”
Ben Smith:
John Heilemann writes, in a piece that seems to convey Obama's own view of what's going on around him, that the changes we've been seeing in the White House are manifestations of Obama taking control, and shifting, among other things, "president’s conception of his own role."

The scoop in there is a round of meetings -- arranged in part by Obama himself -- with Washington graybeards.

But here's another element: A revisionist history of the first two years, growing internally, that puts a lot of blame on Rahm Emanuel:

"Rahm always wanted to win the day, win the week, at the expense of a longer-term focus,” says a senior White House official. “So we’d set up a plan to drive the economic message for a week, and then something would happen, so we would switch and do something different. The legislative calendar was all over the place. Everything had a certain madhouse quality about it.”

And the antidote:

Plouffe, even more than Daley, is the obverse of the former White House chief of staff: Calm, cool, and relentlessly collected, he is the anti-Rahm. It may be that Emanuel’s manic energy and deal-making prowess were essential to Obama’s achievements in the first two years; certainly the president believes that. But he also clearly feels that in the phase ahead, he needs more of the rigor and discipline that Plouffe can provide.

The Emanuel era began just before the 2008 election with a jolt: The ill-timed leak, presumably from Emanuel, of the fact that he'd been offered the job. It was the first sign of a collapse in the discipline the campaign made almost a religion; and while Emanuel's legislative success is obviously huge, it came at a political cost.

Howie P.S.: In retrospect, "No Drama" Obama's choice of Rahmbo as COS seems weird. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with Emanuel can testify to his thespian infrastructure.

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