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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The White House and the Permanent Campaign

The Washington Post profiles White House political director Patrick Gaspard. Unlike other White House aides, he has a calm and low-key style. It quotes deputy chief of staff Jim Messina on another difference.

Gaspard is an unlikely political director in other ways. He is not, people close to him said, obsessed with obscure House races, and can tire of endless talk of polling numbers involving distant contests. He began to settle into his role this summer, other advisers said, when the Obama political operation got involved in promoting health-care reform. "We are all campaign hacks," Messina said. "Patrick is a movement guy. He really came up through the movement and the grassroots."
Forbes columnist Dan Gerstein sees trouble:

Now, new presidents always bring trusted campaign advisers into their administrations. But they usually mix them with a range of serious governing professionals, who come with a very different ethos, to balance out the politicos and bring diverse perspectives into the presidential inner circle. This White House is disproportionately different. But Obama's West Wing is devoid of governing wise men (think Leon Panetta for Bill Clinton, James Baker for the first George Bush and Clark Clifford for multiple Democrats). It is stocked almost exclusively with political pros and a handful of Friends of Barack whose main and often dominant frame of reference is partisan or personal. ... What's missing from this group, besides diversity of experience and interests, is a senior adviser or two with an independent point of view who could carry Obama's post-partisan portfolio. Someone who would wake up every day thinking about how to form broad-based coalitions, to deepen the confidence and trust of independents and non-rabid Republicans in government, and push Obama to honor his promise to change politics-as-usual in Washington. Or at minimum, someone not ingrained or trained to think that the Republicans are the enemy.

From what I can tell, this void has left the Obama White House with a blind spot that has hurt the president and his agenda.