The Campaign Spot

Mass Burnout? Or Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship?

In today’s Morning Jolt, I look at rumors of Robert Gibbs’s imminent departure and the widespread staff changes hitting this administration:

Could President Obama get along without his longtime spokesman and trusted aide Robert Gibbs? Well, yeah. Life will go on at the White House without Gibbs, probably with fewer “uhs” and “ums” and a bit more smarmy disdain from Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton. But with David Axelrod now out in Chicago readying the 2012 campaign, we will have seen an amazing amount of turnover, even at what is usually a natural point for changing-of-the-guard in presidencies.

Larry Summers. Christina Romer. Peter Orszag left to spend more time with his families. Tim Geithner is reportedly on his way out and just waiting for Obama to pick his replacement. That’s the entire economic team, right there. And with all the economic prosperity we’ve enjoyed these past two years, it’s like the breakup of the Beatles, isn’t it?

National Security Adviser Jim Jones has left. Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, gone.

The chiefs of staff have all departed. Rahm Emanuel is gone. So is Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain. Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, too. Anita Dunn, the White House Communications Director, too. Greg Craig was out of the counsel’s office within a year. Linda Douglass, the White House commissar of misinformation management, burned out after health care passed. Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. I won’t count Van Jones, since his departure was involuntary. This list doesn’t include Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who isn’t expected to stick around for the full four years.

Back in October, Richard Benedetto noted that while a few administration folks quitting after two years was normal, Obama was outpacing the historical trend, with many previous top White House staffers working four years.

It’s as if the 1980s-era George Steinbrenner is managing the staff over there . . .


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