Right now, what Obama really needs is a prime minister, someone better suited than he to attend to the day-to-day management of government. With said person in place, say, as White House Chief of Staff, the president can do what he does best, give speeches and otherwise interact with the news media. Basically, he needs a more adept manager reminding him of political and fiscal reality.
His right-hand man in the West Wing (well, with Obama, he might better be called a left-hand man), Rahm Emanuel, is first and foremost a political partisan. He would be better served someone who both knows the way Washington works and has earned the respect of Republicans. Bill Clinton picked just such a man for the post when he tapped Leon Panetta as his Chief of Staff in the summer of 1994 as the first signs of the coming Republican tsunami were being made manifest in special election victories and popular unrest over the then-incumbent’s health care initiatives.
Panetta took over too late to avoid major losses for his party in the 1994 elections, but he helped the Clinton White House find its balance in the second half of the Democrat’s first term. His boss then became the first Democrat to win reelection in 48 years. Obama would be wise to follow his fellow Democrat’s example and appoint a Panetta-like figure to replace Emanuel.
But, instead of going for a respected politician with a knack for policy, “Obama’s first significant personnel change in the wake of the Massachusetts debacle”, Jennifer Rubin reports, “is to hire back his campaign manager“:
Not a new economic team. Not a new chief of staff. Not even a new national security staff to replace the gang that dropped the ball on the Christmas Day bomber. No, with the Obami, it is never about substance or getting the policy right. It’s not about governance. It is about the perpetual campaign. So the campaign manager gets the emergency call.
And from the spam Michelle has received, we learn that campaign manager David Plouffe’s first significant actions since taking on his new portfolio has been to gin up the old campaign operation to promote Obamas policies. Not to reevaluate his legislative priorities in the wake of a stagnant economy and increasing opposition to health care reform, but press them into the campaign “to finish the fight for health insurance reform”. Looks like that ol’ Black Knight is getting ready to lose another limb.