Do you know what this ObamaCare mess needs? More circular firing squad.
Former administration officials and Democratic operatives say President Obama is ill-served by his current White House staff and must reboot his second term team following the disastrous ObamaCare rollout.
First-term insiders argue the White House’s weakness was defined by a lack of preparedness, messaging blunders and failure to keep the president informed.
They say Obama’s team lacks depth after the departures of longtime advisers David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs and Patrick Gaspard, and suggest new people must be brought on.
“You basically have [White House senior adviser Dan] Pfeiffer and [deputy chief of staff] Rob Nabors running the show politically, and that’s it,” one former administration official said.
In their place are a host of officials, including White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, senior adviser David Simas, Pfeiffer and Nabors, all of whom have been involved in trying to navigate a political storm first triggered by the launch of a website that was not ready.
There’s no denying that it’s amateur hour out there. McDonough was a CAP stooge rolled out to fill half a dozen roles none of which he appears to have any particular aptitude for. Pfeiffer’s best skills are sneering and more sneering.
But that’s really typical. Axelrod and Plouffe were experienced operators, but let’s not pretend that the ridiculous Gibbs had anything to bring to the table. Or that the same arrogance wouldn’t have led to the same results.
On Axelrod’s watch, Obama gave a speech defending a violent racist, said enough stupid things to pack an encyclopedia, including talking openly about wealth redistribution. They didn’t fix anything. The media did. The media is slightly less eager to fix things now. Though it’s still doing its part. But mostly the issue is that people have been hit in their pocketbooks now.
The first former official singled out Pfeiffer for criticism in the handling of that blunder, which led to repeated apologies by Obama as the White House struggled with the story.
“The thing that I hold Pfeiffer accountable for is, ‘If you like your plan, you can keep it,’ ” the former official said.
“I don’t know where the breakdown occurred on that, but it’s Obama’s ‘no new taxes’ moment,” the official said, referring to the broken promise that is widely seen as having cost President George H.W. Bush a second term.
The official said it was “hard to be polite” about the rollout: “It still escapes me how they f—ed up this badly on the president’s and the Democratic Party’s biggest legacy item in 20 years.”
So throw Pfeiffer under the bus. But let’s not pretend that there was a stable of geniuses that could have averted this. Team Obama was always arrogant and heedless of consequences. It may have just run out of road.