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Guest Thinkers

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.


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