Because there’s nothing cult-like about the Obama administration.
When President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, approached John Podesta a few weeks ago about taking over the high-aggravation job of White House counselor, the biggest concern wasn’t that he would say no. After all, he had already done so twice before. Obama’s team was more worried that Podesta would say no and that word of his rejection would leak, making the White House look feckless and desperate at the end of Obama’s brutal fifth year in office. So, the circle of people in the know was kept to a small handful; it was so closely held that even the perpetually plugged-in “Davids”—Obama confidants Axelrod and Plouffe—weren’t consulted.
That Obama’s team couldn’t afford to suffer even the minor embarrassment of a possible Podesta rebuff is a measure of just how precarious things have gotten less than a year after the president’s triumphant second inauguration—and how much the White House could use the services of Podesta, the closest thing Washington has to a turnaround specialist for wayward Democratic commanders in chief. […]
The next six months could be decisive: If the president can’t move past the Obamacare debacle to reset the agenda through executive action and targeted legislative campaigns on climate change, immigration and the minimum wage, he might never be able to regain his footing. The West Wing also hopes Podesta can help restore Obama’s slipping reputation as a president who can be trusted to run his own government competently. “You always come in with the perspective that the best way to do things is to be an outsider in Washington, but governing is something insiders do, and that’s what John does best,” says former White House press secretary Mike McCurry, who worked with Podesta when he was chief of staff in President Bill Clinton’s second term. “They needed him.”
This is not just about providing added muscle to a beleaguered and undermanned West Wing staff. According to interviews in recent weeks with an array of Obama insiders and a dozen current and former senior aides, Podesta’s hire is explicitly meant to shake things up inside the White House. In effect, I was told, it represents the clearest sign to date of the administration’s interest in shifting the paradigm of Obama’s presidency through the forceful, unapologetic and occasionally provocative application of White House power. Podesta, whose official mandate includes enforcement of numerous executive orders on emissions and the environment, suggested as much when he spoke with me earlier this fall about Obama’s team. “They need to focus on executive action given that they are facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress,” he told me.
Update: A Dem member of Congress was killed in Jonestown and current Dem Rep. Jackie Speier was shot five times.
(Roll Call) — Brendan Buck, spokesman for Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested the quote was a bad omen for 2014.
“For those who’ve forgotten, a Democratic member of Congress was murdered in Jonestown and a current one, Rep. Jackie Speier, was shot five times during the same incident,” Buck noted.
“If this is the attitude of the new White House, it’s hard to see how the president gets anything done again,” he said.
HT: Conn Carroll