The Financial Times has a fantastic, in depth article about Barack Obama's inner circle. you will have to register in order to read it. I urge you to do so, but if you do not want to, I will summarize the main points with some thoughts I have after reading. The article is based on interviews with dozens of mostly anonymous frustrated aides who believe the inner circle is going to doom Democrat control of the government.
First, Obama has an insulated inner circle consisting of four people:
Rahm Emanuel (heavy handed chief of staff.)
David Axelrod (astroturfer extraordinaire.)
Robert Gibbs (communications director.)
Valerie Jarrett (close adviser since 1991.)
The four are all from Chicago and therefore do things the brutal Chicago way. Only Emanuel has any experience in actually governing. The rest have experience solely in getting candidates elected to office. Nevertheless, the four are said to be Obama’s sole advisors on all issues, foreign and domestic. No meetings on any subject are held without as many of them as possible being in attendance.
Sources quoted in the article say relies exclusively on their advice, never seeking out any consult with the cabinet or numerous czars. They are all little more than window dressing to whom Emanuel’s only communication is to hand out the administration’s message and tell them to promote it. If true, this would explain why Obama has been so quick to throw his appointees under the bus when they become an embarrassment. He does not need them.
This may explain a few things about Hillary Clinton as well. One cynically figures Obama gave her a job in his administration that was important enough to satisfy her ego while keeping her too busy to form another challenge to him in 2012. Evidently, she is kept out of the loop as much as possible by the inner circle. Which makes sense. Can you really see Obama alienating so many of our allies, embracing our enemies, and breaching protocol while deciding to make an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a big part of foreign policy if her were listening to her? Think what you will about her politics, she does have the capacity to put statesmanship over partisan policy. No wonder she wants out as soon as reasonably possible.
Second, the inner circle keeps Obama isolated. One mantra repeated continually by the interviewees is they have no idea what Obama knows or is thinking about issues. I will cut some slack here, because I find that hard to believe. Obama does appear aloof and unconcerned with the problems the country is facing.
Then again, Obama not tries to ram through unpopular policies like ObamaCare, he seems oblivious to the negative reactions of the people around him. His trip to Copenhagen to shill for Chicago’s Olympic bid was beneath his office and an embarrassing failure. He had no shame accepting the undeserved Nobel Peace Prize when insisting it be rewarded to a worthier choice would have been gracious. He went to Massachusetts anyway even as Scott Brown was an all but certain winner. He was clueless about the Sarkozies feeling snubbed socially. Even something as relatively small as how off putting as his over dependence on a teleprompter annoys people..
I do not want to oversell this, however. It reminds me of the progressive rumor that became popular in the late ’90’s and early ’00’s that Ronald Reagan was already suffering from dementia in his second term, but his inner circle kept it hidden from the public while largely keeping the real affairs of state hidden from him. Hence, Iran Contra was going on under his nose and really did not know anything about it. I think Obama’s reactions to other people can best be explained as arrogance.
Finally, because of their lack of governing experience, he inner circle’s advice is based on a perpetual campaign rather than policy. All presidents do this to some extent, but Obama’s is apparently glaring enough to comment on, particularly in the realm of foreign policy.
According to the article, Obama was constantly surrounded by Axelrod, Gibbs, and Jarrett during his November trip to China. None have any foreign policy experience period, much less any specialized knowledge of China. Relevant officials and advisors were kept at a distance. One anonymous advisor interviewed for the article, who is described as a foreign policy expert, described the trip as, “the Obama campaign visits China.”
I suppose it makes sense from Obama’s perspective. Recall how he claimed growing up in Indonesia and visiting Pakistan as a young man gave him a foreign policy perspective none of the other candidates possessed? Even shallow experiecesare profound because they happened to Obama.
The bottom line is Obama’s inner circle, perhaps with the exception of Emanuel, is so tight, he cannot get rid of them. They are so much the face of the administration, they are irreplaceable. Our country can expect more of the same unless they realize how badly they are messing up or Obama is no longer president. But they must share Obama’s hubris to so cluelessly enable him to squander as many things as he has in such ashort period of time how else can you explain devoting so much time to healthcare reform while ignoring the crumbling economy/ announcing ends to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before knowing if they are even won? It is hubris and hubris rarely admits its mistakes. So wear stuck with the inner circle.
Can we survive them?