Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

White House Taking More Flak From Its Political Allies

It isn’t surprising that Republican Members of Congress and their talking heads on television slam the Obama administration every day. Given the partisan divide, that’s probably inevitable.

But what is surprising is the growing criticism coming from Democratic circles and from party political insiders of President Barack Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and the White House’s political operation. Not surprisingly, the criticism is coming only on a not-for-attribution basis.

Some Democrats blame what they call the White House’s political tin ear on the nature of the office.

“It’s hard when you live in this area to understand how bad it is out there,” one veteran Washington, D.C., Democrat told me recently. “People want jobs. They know that it will take time, but they want to be certain that we are working on it.”

The same Democrat noted that this administration, like others, can’t always count on people telling the president how bad things are outside the Beltway. “When the White House calls, most people figure that to get another call, they better give good news. Tell them how bad things are, and they’ll never call you again.”

Another Democrat was more pointed about placing blame.

“The political operation [in the White House] is a true disaster. Until Dave Plouffe, nobody’s job was to watch the politics. Rahm missed Massachusetts,” this person said.

Rahm Emanuel, whose successes at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are now part of Democratic Party lore and who was the ultimate Capitol Hill insider, missed Massachusetts? But isn’t he always obsessed with the politics of any issue? Isn’t that part of the reason why Rahm is such an asset at the White House?

“It’s the Myth of Rahm,” observed one critical Democrat about the White House chief of staff, who has a bigger-than-life reputation in Washington, D.C.

But blaming Emanuel doesn’t answer the question entirely. The national media, after all, likes to build people up more than they deserve and tear them down more than warranted. It’s what most in the media do. Karl Rove was once considered to be a political genius until things went south for the Bush administration.

“The folks at the White House have been up to their eyes in policy, and that has meant less attention to politics,” said a thoughtful Democrat.

One problem, according to some observers, is that David Axelrod, a savvy political strategist who understands message and campaigns, has become an Obama “believer” and has lost some of the perspective he once had. Maybe the lesson is that the White House isn’t the best place to work to keep one’s critical eye.

comments powered by Disqus




Want Roll Call on your doorstep?