Why The White House Needs To Liberate Some Desk Space

“Who the White House needs to fire” I said yesterday while taping a radio segment, “is the person who tried to schedule the president’s jobs speech to the joint congress on the same day as the Republican debate.” I was all set to continue that thought with Sean Yoes, the host of the WEAA AFRO/First Edition political show, by sharing an image that had been on my mind for the last week and a half—“and the president should fire that person who bumbled the scheduling of his speech the way I used to be fired. No warning, no time to clean out my desk, just a curt “Mr. Broughton, you can pick up your personal items after four o’clock”—but our conversation veered in another direction.  


This morning I discovered, while reading today’s edition of POLITICO Playbook, that the guilty culprit in the jobs speech scheduling snafu was none other than Bill Daley, President Obama’s chief of staff. The reality for people in positions like these is, even when they should be handed a cardboard box and get directed to an exit, getting rid of them is often more problematic than suffering through their tenure. Whether Daley is the right man for the job or not, at this juncture in the Obama presidency, he will have to do.   

I don’t usually find myself in agreement with James Carville, but in his CNN opinion piece yesterday I think he just about hit the nail on the head when it came to giving the Obama Administration some advice. Carville’s prescriptions boil down to four bullet points—fire some people, indict some people on Wall Street, make your case like a Democrat instead of a Republican, and stick to your story. These are things this White House can do without dealing with the GOP controlled House of Representatives. Carville’s penchant for animated language and overt political messaging often seems to oversimplify more complex issues, but in this case, where the White House could use all the help it can get to telegraph to the American public that it is listening, this Democratic consultant is right on the money.   

If Daley is the chief whip cracker in the West Wing, then he needs to pick a few people and make them clean out their offices. There is nothing like the smell of freshly liberated desk space in the air to get the rest of your employees who are still on the job to rediscover their sense of purpose. Having the Justice Department indict someone on Wall Street is the most effective way this side of pulling a million jobs out of a hat to begin regaining the president’s public appeal, and a lot more doable.

The third and fourth areas where Carville feels the Obama Administration could improve fall squarely on the Oval Office. If President Obama can stick to his story on the jobs bill he is pushing for the rest of the year, instead of giving us variations on a theme, it will be a first step in the right direction. Making his case like a Democrat may be the hardest thing for the Obama Administration to commit to doing. But if Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination, all of the president’s Republican lite talking points will be off the table, so it might best for President Obama and his surrogates to start getting some practice in now.

Why a great education means engaging with controversy

Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
  • If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
  • Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Keep reading Show less

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

SpaceX catches Falcon Heavy nosecone with net-outfitted boat

It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
  • A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
  • A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
Keep reading Show less