Look In The Mirror Pal
by Deacon Blues
Are presidents boxed in by their staff, or are their staff a reflection of the leader himself? You have to deal with that question when you read a Sunday piece in the Financial Times in which it appears that Beltway insiders already are dishing dirt on what they think is wrong with Obama.
You see, according to the Beltway spin, it's all the fault of his advisers, and not the man himself. Specifically, according to the storyline, Rahm is a big prick. Big surprise there.
It's hard to dismiss this out of hand, because the piece has got some heft to it, and seems to have multiple sources. And as Steve Clemons noted in a solid follow-up, this meme is making the rounds of the media and elites as accepted gospel. To wit, Obama is shielded from the real world by a small group of overly political advisors from back home, who care less about good policy than they do political goals, and who know how to get elected but not how to govern.
Gee, where have we heard that one before?
Yet it becomes too easy to blame the problems on the staff instead of looking at the man himself. If Obama didn't want Rahm to piss down the throats of the progressives and placate Wall Street, then why is Rahm still on the job? The simple truth is that Obama made a decision to do whatever it took to take Wall Street off the table as an adversary because he feared them more than the Democratic base. They've rewarded him the way Wall Street usually rewards saps: they took his money and still worked against him.
You can allow this behavior if you have results to show for it, and if your disgruntled base will support you no matter what. Bush had 9/11, fear, and a meek Democratic opposition at his disposal, and with a sheeple base he had little to fear until Katrina revealed his administration for what it was. Obama on the other hand was faced from Day One with a mess to clean up that he's mishandled; a unified opposition bent on de-legitimizing him even as he worked for naive bipartisanship; and his own campaign rhetoric that his base thought he meant. His policy and staffing choices are his, not Rahm's. The buck stops at the top.