Monday, February 08, 2010

Is Obama's Inner Circle Ruining his Presidency?

An interesting pair of articles from Steve Clemons at the Washington Note and Edward Luce at the Financial Times suggest that an inner circle of Obama advisors (Emmanuel, Jarrett, Axelrod and Gibbs) have pushed the Cabinet and other potential advisors aside, and have pushed tactically smart moves at the expense of the overall strategy. It's an interesting look backstage from a pair of insiders, and would explain a lot of the inexplicable problems that have been created over the past year. AmericaBlog agrees with the assessment. How to fix it?

But one thing essential to understand is that the kind of policy that smart strategists -- including by people like National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other advisers like Denis McDonough, Tom Donilon, James Steinberg, William Burns, (previously Gregory Craig) -- would be putting forward is getting twisted either in the rough-and-tumble of a a team of rivals operation that is not working, or is being distorted by the Chicago political gang's tactical advice that is seducing Obama towards a course that has not only violated deals he made with those who voted him into office but which is failing to hit any of the major strategic targets by which the administration will be historically measured.

President Obama needs to take stock quickly. Read the Luce piece. Be honest about what is happening. Read Plouffe's smart book again. Send Rahm Emanuel back to the House in a senior role. Make Valerie Jarrett an important Ambassador. Keep Axelrod -- but balance him with someone like Plouffe, and get back to putting good policy before short term politics.

Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on.

And take action to fix the dysfunction of your office.

Otherwise, the Obama brand will be totally bust in the very near term.

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