The White House has brought on John Podesta to help with the rescue of President Obama’s second term. No one staff person can be a cure for the White House’s problems, but having good people does make a difference. If President Obama had had a better staff in place, the Obamacare rollout might not be the debacle that it is and the health-care law might occupy a different spot in the public mind than it does today.
Some have suggested that the new hires at the White House are signs of panic; John Podesta is just the opposite. He is a beltway pro who moves at a deliberate pace and in a thoughtful manner, and he is a sure-footed realist.
Podesta’s accomplishments also have nothing to do with the Obama presidency. There’s no chance that he’s intimidated by the president or the White House surroundings, so he might be the one to challenge the president’s biases and tell other staff members that their job requires more than just flattery and fawning.
Podesta has the ability to be blunt, but he is never rattled. He’s a liberal, but he knows why he believes what he believes, and he can say so with clarity and conviction. He’s not politically deceitful or intellectually dishonest – something that is becoming more and more rare in Washington.
Podesta will also be a good gear to mesh the White House machinery with the Democratic apparatus in the rest of political Washington. This White House tends to act in isolation. It basically operates as a propaganda office, supplying the venue and applause for every Obama utterance. As I’ve said before, too many in Washington – starting with the president – think it’s all about having the job, not doing the job. That’s not true in Podesta’s case. Nothing about taking this assignment will add luster to his already sterling credentials.
John Podesta won’t be able to change the character of the presidency or the way this Administration is run, but he can do a lot to help the White House avoid some of the potholes and swinging doors they have been walking into lately.
Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC