The midterm elections have retreated far enough in the rear-view mirror to allow Barack Obama to conduct a shake-up of his staff at the White House and argue that it had nothing to do with suffering a historic loss. Politico reports that major personnel changes will come at the end of the year to fix the “chaotic” organization put in place by Rahm Emanuel. Fortunately, the Obama administration has a new talent pool from which to draw:
President Barack Obama has delayed the most significant staff shuffle of his presidency until after New Year’s — but the changes may be more sweeping than anticipated and could include the hiring of high-profile Democrats defeated in the midterms.
David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, who will become a senior adviser to the president as early as the first week of January, is perhaps the most significant addition to Obama’s staff. He is expected to take an expansive new role including running the embattled White House press and messaging operations, people with knowledge of the situation told POLITICO. …
Obama’s thinking on other specifics of his reconfigured West Wing — as well as a new campaign operation and Democratic National Committee structure — is largely unknown. But changes are expected across the administration, with familiar faces moving into new roles, both inside and outside the White House, and some unfamiliar ones joining the ranks.
The idea of recycling defeated Democrats seems the most amusing strategy I’ve seen in politics since … well, since the President strategized that attending a Christmas party was more important than finishing up a joint press conference with Bill Clinton. Has it occurred to the President’s staff that voters didn’t want these Democrats in government any longer when they voted for their opponents? Instead of listening to voters, hiring a slew of defeated incumbents to run the executive branch is akin to sticking a thumb in the eye of the electorate.
Fortunately for Obama, the lame-duck session is taking all his time at the moment, so he hasn’t moved forward with plans to hire Alan Grayson. All right, no one’s talking about hiring Grayson, except perhaps MSNBC, but Politico mentions Ted Strickland, Jennifer Granholm, and Jim Doyle, three Democratic governors who found themselves out in the cold after the elections. Of the three, only Strickland was defeated in the polls; Granholm and Doyle didn’t run for re-election, but were succeeded by Republicans in what had been considered fairly safe Democratic states. However, Obama apparently also wants job openings for defeated House incumbents Tom Perriello of Virginia and Steve Dreihaus and John Boccieri of Ohio. Given that all three got spanked in the election fairly hard, the idea of adding them to reconnect to the electorate sounds very much like a White House and President in denial.
With all of this talk of shake-ups in the staff, what about the Cabinet? Don’t look for any changes at that level, Politico warns:
Obama’s Cabinet seems likely to stay more or less the same in coming months. The president met individually with each member after the election, according to administration officials, and while there has been some re-evaluation of goals going forward, there is unlikely to be an exodus.
After getting trounced in an election that hinged on economics, will Obama really keep Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and what’s left of his economic advisers in place? If so, expect that to be a secondary line of attack in 2012 by whoever wins the GOP presidential nomination. It looks as though defeated Democrats might be a renewable resource for some time.