It's time for Obama to start firing people

Here are the personnel changes being bruited about in political and policy circles: First, remove Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff and move him to a senior political adviser slot. No one I’ve talked to believes he has the management skills and discipline to run the White House. But he is a terrific political mind and a fighter and should be given the new job and the time to do his thing. Proven pros who could step right in include the following: Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina and former Clinton chief of staff; Leon Panetta, now CIA director and formerly White House chief as well under Clinton; Sylvia Mathews, a former deputy chief of staff also under Clinton; and John Podesta, another former Clinton chief who now heads the Center for American Progress. All four are tough and know how to manage…

Robert Gibbs needs a rest from being press secretary. Let’s put it this way: He wasn’t born for daily jousts with pithy Republicans. His job calls for memorable and pointed phrases and attacks, not circle-the-wagon circumlocutions. Possible successors? Try Doyle McManus of the L.A. Times, Jake Tapper of ABC News, or Helene Cooper of The New York Times.

Last but not least, James Jones, the National Security Adviser, has to move on. The career Marine was greatly admired and respected as Commandant of the Corps and as NATO’s military chief. He handled those duties with great skill. But by wide acclamation inside and outside the White House, he has not emerged as a strategist—perhaps the key requirement of this key position. The person in that job has to pull everything together—laying out achievable objectives and precise plans to dispense carefully packaged carrots and sticks. One Democrat who could step in now, despite his age, is Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser. He has a first-rate strategic mind—a rare quality—and knows how to deliver results. Obama will need to iron out Zbig’s lack of sympathy toward Israel and Russia.