Breaking Ranks When The Heat Is On: What Happens When Amateurs Go To War (With Each Other)
I have long maintained that while this administration is great at running campaigns, it is a miserable failure at actually running an administration. It has become rudderless with too many people competing to steer the ship.One minute Rahm Emanuel calls the shots. The next it is Valerie Jarrett or David Axelrod or Robert Gibbs. Then back to Rahm and over to Patrick Gaspard, etc.Save for Emanuel, we see a group of amateurs sailing the ship of state and fighting on the battlefield of policy and politics. And we are beginning to see what happens when the heat is on, the metaphorical bullets are flying, and the amateurs are in charge. They break ranks, cut, and run.And along the way, they are throwing the President of the United States under the bus.Consider three stories out today.Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats confronted White House official Dan Turton about Robert Gibbs’ less than helpful comments. Turton responded that Gibbs was speaking off the cuff. Gibbs has been back pedaling ever since.Compare Turton’s remarks to Nancy Pelosi’s face with an anonymous White House official who said Gibbs’ remarks were intentional — they were planned:
A White House official, granted anonymity to speak candidly, said that Gibbs’ remark was an attempt to turn the midterms from a referendum on Obama
As Chris Cilliza points out, it probably is “not a good thing if today’s Post/ABC poll numbers continue through the fall — into a choice between Democrats and Republicans.” I still maintain the White House wants Republicans in charge of Congress as it increases the odds of Obama getting a second term.And did Turton lie to Nancy Pelosi’s face or is the anonymous White House aide lying?Then there is this amazing article in the Financial Times. Advisors to the President are beginning to lash out at Barack Obama himself.
In private, informal advisors to Mr Obama are almost as negative. According to one, the US public’s loss of confidence in Mr Obama’s leadership is a factor above and beyond their dissatisfaction over the state of the real economy, which continues to slow as last year’s $787bn stimulus starts to run dry. The adviser, who asked to remain anonymous, said the public did not know what Mr Obama really believed. Examples include his lukewarm support last year for a public option in the healthcare bill and his equally lukewarm support today for a Senate bill that would extend unemployment insurance and aid state governments to keep teachers in their jobs.
It’s important to note the terminology here. An “informal advisor” is not in the White House, but is typically someone within the President’s kitchen cabinet — people he trusts to advise him. In other words, the barriers have been broken: the intelligentsia is now openly attacking him. Informal advisors are attacking him on background. Very, very soon we will see White House aides expressing their frustration once they realize firing at each other on the battlefield is a waste of time and going after the guy nominally in charge puts points on the board for their post-White House books.This is just delightful to behold. Too bad so much is at stake.