Is the first member of the Democratic Party political calvary galloping in to try and rescue President Obama’s second term so Obama doesn’t only shore up public support, but administers and strategizes in a way that helps him and his sagging party? It sounds that way:
President Obama, after a rocky year that leaves him at the lowest ebb of his presidency, is bringing into his White House circle the longtime Democratic strategist John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Podesta, who has agreed to serve as counselor for a year, led Mr. Obama’s presidential transition in 2008 and has been an outside adviser since then. He also has occasionally criticized the administration, if gently, from his perch as the founder and former president of the Center for American Progress, a center-left public policy research group that has provided personnel and policy ideas to the administration.
Trending is important in polling and Obama’s trending has been decidedly bad as the Obamacare fizzling sound filled the media air. Here’s a no-duh paragraph on Mr. Obama’s current situation where rather than being a President who can make the case for more government, shockingly poor management, oversight and a failure to have fallback plans ready in case of problems he could go down in history as undermining the argument of liberals and providing a big opening to conservatives — who are not letting this moment pass:
Word that Mr. Podesta would for the first time join Mr. Obama’s official staff, from people familiar with the discussions, comes as the president is seeking to recover public support and credibility after the flawed introduction in October of the insurance marketplaces that are a key part of his signature Affordable Care Act. This week he brought back his former chief congressional lobbyist, Phil Schiliro, who had moved to New Mexico, to help on the health care issues.
Mr. Podesta’s recruitment, by Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, also comes as Mr. Obama faces a number of departures by close advisers in the coming months.
Among those exiting is his longtime confidant and troubleshooter Pete Rouse, who has been with Mr. Obama since the future president was elected a senator in 2004. For a few months in late 2010, Mr. Rouse was Mr. Obama’s acting chief of staff.
Mr. Podesta will help Mr. McDonough on matters related to the health care law, administration organization and executive actions, said a person familiar with the plans, and will focus in particular on climate change issues, a personal priority of Mr. Podesta’s.
The most notable part of The New York Times piece is this:
The White House refused to confirm the recruitment of Mr. Podesta. The person familiar with the matter said Mr. Podesta would not be replacing Mr. Rouse, who is said to have a unique relationship with the president after their years together in the Senate, two presidential campaigns and the White House.
In other words, help was asked for and help has arrived, but they don’t want it to look like help.
But help is help when you need help — and it often can help. (Get it?)
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.