The Obama Leadership Style

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Obama’s Economic Quagmire: Frank Rich and Adam Moss Talk About What’s Really in Ron Suskind’s Revealing New Book About the White House

By Adam Moss and Frank Rich, The New Yorker

9/17/11 at 4:38 PM

Frank Rich: It’s the most ambitious treatment of this period yet because Suskind integrates the White House story with the Wall Street story, giving them equal weight rather than downsizing one to serve as the backdrop to the other. He is truly after the big picture, not just the petty stuff. He has no agenda of his own that I can detect, he had enormous cooperation from the White House, and he names sources (and avoids blind quotes) far more than the norm for a book of this Woodward genre. And even for someone like me, who’s read most of the overlapping books and reported on some of this myself, there are new revelations and details. A depressing book yes, but savvy and informative. And some of that depression will be temporarily alleviated by the doubtlessly entertaining circular firing squad that is likely to emerge in the next week once Summers, Geithner, Warren, Emanuel, Rubin, Volcker, Orszag, Rouse, Barney Frank (who does not fare well), and perhaps the president get their hands on it.

(T)he buck stops with Obama. There’s a poignant moment of sorts in December 2008 when the North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan implores the president-elect not to go with his economic team. “I don’t understand how you could do this,” he tells him. “You’ve picked the wrong people!” As indeed Obama did, under the tutelage of Robert Rubin, who also tried to finagle a White House guru role for himself, not unlike the perch from which he helped wreak havoc at Citigroup during its subprime orgy. So Suskind’s book often reads like Halberstam’s “Best and the Brightest,” with Summers and Geithner as McNamara and Bundy. But the quagmire isn’t a neo-Vietnam like Afghanistan – it’s the economy, and the casualties are measured in lost jobs. After the stimulus bill passed in February 2009, Suskind writes, “little else happened on the jobs front for a year and a half,” with proposals being “talked to death without resolution.”

What should the White House do? Panic!

By James Carville, CNN Contributor

updated 11:05 AM EST, Sun September 18, 2011

For God’s sake, why are we still looking at the same political and economic advisers that got us into this mess? It’s not working.

Furthermore, it’s not going to work with the same team, the same strategy and the same excuses. I know economic analysts are smart — some work 17-hour days. It’s time to show them the exit. Wake up — show us you are doing something.

Bill Daley struggles to fix Barack Obama’s slump


9/16/11 6:54 PM EDT

The 63-year-old scion of Chicago political royalty was brought in as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff to provide fresh blood, corporate-world experience and adult supervision to a young, free-wheeling White House staff. But critics inside and outside the West Wing are questioning whether he is the tough, competent manager needed to shake up the operation and propel Obama into the 2012 election year.

As a banker and former secretary of commerce, Daley’s ability to soothe relations with Republicans was a major justification for bringing him from Chicago – much to the disgust of many Democrats who wanted Obama to take a more combative approach after the 2010 elections. But Daley’s failure to achieve any negotiating successes has only intensified the chorus of criticism from Democrats that Obama is too willing to compromise.

There’s also a primal scream aspect to the criticism, rooted in deep concerns among many Democrats about 2012, and, perhaps, the desire to find someone other than the man at the top of the ticket to blame.

The irony, of course, is that Daley is doing what his boss wants. He takes his role of gatekeeper seriously, and has restricted the torrent of paper and people into the Oval Office. The decision to downsize and deprioritize Obama’s legislative affairs team was made before Daley ever entered the building on a blueprint from interim chief of staff Pete Rouse.


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