Obama’s Advisers Stage Mass Exit
By: Mike Tighe and David Patten
Key Obama insider David Axelrod confirmed Thursday he will
be leaving the administration next year, and White House Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel is now expected to leave his post as early as next month.
These latest defections add to the perception that "no-drama Obama"
officials are rushing for the White House exits before voters deliver
their midterm evaluation of President Obama’s "hope and change" agenda.
"I’ll be here well into 2011," Axelrod wrote Thursday in an e-mail to Fox News. "At some point, I’ll leave to work on reelect."
Axelrod and Emanuel are the two advisers Obama probably relies on the
most. Emanuel, whose profane tirades are legendary, is now thought
likely to leave the White House as early as October in order to prepare
his run for mayor of Chicago.
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an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Fox News analyst Dick Morris says
the increasing exodus of President Obama aides and advisers could mean
that many of them fear he could be a one term president
Axelrod, of course, will continue to work for the president, but in a
more overtly political capacity. He will try to help Team Obama
recapture the lost political mojo that propelled Obama to the White
The Axelrod and Emanuel news followed a rash of recent top-level resignations.
On Tuesday, senior presidential adviser Larry Summers announced he would
be leave the administration and return to Harvard University.
Other recent departures include economics adviser Christina Romer, who
had issued the ill-fated prediction that the stimulus would hold
unemployment below 8 percent; and Peter Orszag, the White House budget
director who recently broke with the administration and called for
extension of all Bush-era tax cuts.
Also, the assistant Treasury secretary for financial stability who
helped oversee the TARP program, Herbert Allison, announced Wednesday
that he is returning to Connecticut for family reasons.
Despite the apparent high-level shake up, the White House is working
overtime to assure the media that the defections are completely routine
and have nothing to do with the flagging economy, or the president’s
plummeting poll numbers.
Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, insisted everything is business as usual at the White House.
"Every presidency has transitions after two years,” he said according to
Politico.com. “These are hard taxing jobs and it makes sense that some
people would move on. The hyperventilation and the parlor games may be
unavoidable, but they don’t signal anything unusual.”
But so many high level advisers jumping ship before the midterms, at a
time when the departures could be viewed as evidence of turmoil and
policy blunders, seems remarkable.
Best-selling author and Fox News commentator Dick Morris agrees the
resignations are related to the president’s declining fortunes.
"I think that there is a desire to scapegoat already for the impending
catastrophe the Democrats are going to face in 2010," Morris tells
Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
Morris adds those leaving have a personal interest in doing so as well.
“I think there’s a feeling — I’m guessing — by a lot of these Obama
appointees, particularly on the economic team, but also a guy like
Emanuel, that Obama might be a one-term president and that they better
get out and set up their careers while the getting is good,” says
Morris, a Newsmax contributor. “If you want to be a lobbyist or you want
to run for mayor, or you want to become a lobbyist [or] a consultant,
you’d best do that when your guy is still in power and still has two
years left on his term, rather than after you lost a re-election
Richard Grenell, who served as a spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors to
the United Nations, quipped Thursday that "Clearly they all wanted to
spend more time with their families, right?"
Speaking in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Grenell says he doesn’t
buy the spin coming from the White House that the sudden exits are
unrelated to the economy.
"I think really all these economic advisers in the Obama administration
have really been forced to resign," he says, "and hopefully their
reputations have been ruined because they couldn’t deliver."
Grenell adds: "The unemployment rate is the highest that it’s been since
the Carter days. Our economy has not turned itself around from the
incredible amount of stimulus money that was pumped into it.
"And Obama and his administration, including the Democrats in Congress,
continue to spend our way out of this. It’s like they don’t understand
that government doesn’t create jobs. As my grandfather used to always
say to me, ‘No poor person ever hired me.’"
Although Axelrod confirmed his departure, Emanuel’s exit is less certain.
A senior White House adviser told CBS News correspondent Chip Reid there
is a "decent chance" Emanuel will leave the White House before the
midterms to launch his candidacy for mayor of Chicago.
That would be at odds with the understanding President Obama expressed
when questions about Emanuel arose in a Sept. 10 interview on ABC’s Good
"My expectation is, he’d make a decision after these midterm elections,"
Obama said. "He knows that we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think
he’d be a terrific mayor."
Emanuel is apparently either unwilling or unable to abide by Obama’s timetable.
In the past week, Emanuel has been seen meeting with Chicago’s
congressional delegation, seeking feedback on the issues expected to
dominate next year’s race for Chicago Mayor. One prominent Democrat told
Politico that Emanuel is poised to flee across the Potomac.
“Yeah, he’s going to run — provided his wife doesn’t pull the plug,” that source said.
The spate of unexpected departure announcements just 40 days from the
November election once again muddled White House efforts to keep the
message focus on Obama’s efforts to fix the economy.
"Clearly, the team has lost consensus, coherence, and commitment to a
fiscal plan," Douglas Schoen, author of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party
Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," told Newsmax
Tuesday. "And with Romer’s, Orszag’s, and now Summers’ departure, it is
clear the Obama administration will need a new approach and new
direction following what is likely to be a November election defeat."
Inside and outside the White House, attention is turning to how the
president may use the sudden job openings to recast his administration.
A Financial Times commentary said Obama’s next appointments could represent a watershed for his presidency.
“It will be up to Mr. Obama to make replacing Mr. Summers and the rest
of the team more than a personnel exercise,” the Financial Times’ David
Rothkopf wrote. “He needs to make it a real mid-course correction.
"Because in the end, his re-election and his legacy will turn on the big
economic decisions he and his new team will make in the months ahead.”
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