Patterico's Pontifications


Daley Demoted: WH Chief of Staff Now Figurehead

Filed under: 2012 Election,General — Karl @ 9:01 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The WSJ goes Boom:

William M. Daley was hired to help resuscitate Barack Obama’s presidency after deep Democratic losses in 2010. Ten months into his tenure as chief of staff, Mr. Daley’s core responsibilities are shifting, following White House missteps in the debt-ceiling fight and in its relations with Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

On Monday, Mr. Daley turned over day-to-day management of the West Wing to Pete Rouse, a veteran aide to President Obama, according to several people familiar with the matter. It is unusual for a White House chief of staff to relinquish part of the job.

A little unusual, yes.  Basically, Daley had no grasp on dealing with Congress.  He blew relations with Speaker Boehner during the debt ceiling debate — and gets blame for botching the scheduling of Obama’s economic speech to a joint session of Congress.   Daley’s relationship with Sen. Maj. Ldr. Reid was not much better.  By September, Congressional Dems were taking potshots at him in the HuffPo.  And while Patterico avoids linking directly to Politico, Daley’s recent interview with Roger Simon likely enraged Cong Dems.  So now Bill is reduced to gladhanding the likes of Alan Greenspan and former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Jim Johnson.

The shake-up is a concession that the post-midterm shake-up is a failure.  Installing Rouse — who was on the ground floor of Obama’s 2008 campaign — is the confirmation that it’s all campaigning from now on.

Update:  Upon reflection, two things strike me about the coming re-shake-up.  First, the Keystone Kops quality of the way Obama has handled the CoS position.  Rahm Emanuel was installed for his knowledge of Congress. He was not all that well liked in Congress, but at least he knew Congress.  That supposed qualification meant less when the Dems had commanding majorities in both houses, as Obama generally let Pelosi and Reid do whatever was necessary to squeeze his agenda through, over GOP and general public opposition.  The result was a midterm drubbing.  Obama then decided to bring in Daley to improve his image, rather than his substance, at the moment when Emanuel — or Rouse, who also knows Congress (he was a Daschle guy before he was an Obama guy) — may have been the better choice.  Rouse is now installed at the moment that the notion of getting things done with Congress is pretty much dead, while Daley hangs around to tell his business pals that his boss really doesn’t mean all the class warfare rhetoric he’ll be spewing for the next year.

The second point is implicit in the first.  The Carousel of Chiefs of Staff reflects Obama’s self-delusion that his problems stem from the daily management of the White House.  His real problems are the economy and his misplaced policy priorities.  It’s mostly too late for a do-over on either of those.  Thus, another round of musical chairs is substituted to suggest Obama is doing something about his predicament.


Obama may punt on the pipeline

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:27 pm

[Posted Karl]

Via HotAir’s Tina Korbe, I think we all expect this L.A. Times story is the introduction to another Profile in Leading From Behind:

The Obama administration is considering a move that could delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline by requiring sponsors to reduce the project’s environmental risks before it can be approved, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.

The step might put off a decision until after the 2012 election and be a way for the White House to at least temporarily avoid antagonizing either the unions that support the pipeline or the environmental activists who oppose it as President Obama gears up for his campaign.

Tina notes this should be a no-brainer when employment is the top agenda item for voters. Moreover, as Robert J. Samuelson recently noted, it should be a no-brainer from the standpoint of concerns about carbon emissions:

If Obama rejects the pipeline, he would — perversely — increase greenhouse gas emissions. Canada has made clear that it will proceed with oil sands development regardless of the American decision. If the United States doesn’t want the oil, China and other Asian countries do. Pipelines would be built to the West Coast. Transporting the oil by tanker to Asia would almost certainly create more emissions than moving it by pipeline to closer U.S. markets.

Granted, greens would likely oppose a pipeline going west, but the opposition is likely to be less intense and the domestic benefits more concentrated in Canada.

It’s a sad situation.  As Pulitzer Prize-winning energy historian and consultant Daniel Yergin notes, only politics threatens our energy supplies.  Any transition to renewables likely remains decades away, as wind and solar remain expensive, intermittent and difficult to scale, while political issues plague nuclear as the most viable alternative to fossil fuels.  At National Review, Peter Thiel recently published a lengthy piece (and one I disagree with partially in other respects), one point of which is the degree to which our current political debates about income inequality and overleverage reflects the failure of our energy policy — a failure obscured in part by the tech boom.  Obama’s energy policy — whether the dithering on the Keystone XL project or perpetuating the scandal of Tomorrowland symbolized by the Solyndra debacle — is one of his most costly.


How about a new thread about Herman Cain’s alleged sexually inappropriate conduct? (Updated x3)

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 11:43 am

[Posted by Karl]

One of Cain’s accusers goes public:

A fourth woman said Monday that presidential candidate Herman Cain engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with her more than decade ago, though Cain was not her supervisor at the time.

Sharon Bialek, the first woman to publicly accuse Cain of inappropriate behavior, said Cain was “sexually inappropriate” with her in 1997, saying he put his hand under her skirt and pushed her head toward his crotch after a dinner together. She said he backed away after she asked him to stop.

The best part of it for Cain is that Bialek’s lawyer is Gloria Allred, who did her best to make the press conference a media circus.  However, as Ed Morrissey notes:

Despite Allred’s stupid comment about calling the incident Cain’s “idea of a stimulus package,” the fact that someone is willing to go on record and give specifics on a charge will make this seem a lot more credible than last week’s vague reporting from Politico.  Making that more difficult is the statement from Bialek and Allred that the purported victim is a Tea Party Republican, which might indicate less of a credibility issue than otherwise.

At this early stage, I would not bet the farm that Bialek is a Tea Partier.  On the other hand, I am seeing a fair amount of knee-jerk denialism from some conservatives on Twitter.  If Team Cain had not botched their response to this issue at virtually every turn, it might have been easier to dismiss.

Update: Maybe the real upside for Cain is that this story will distract from Cain’s apparent ignorance on entitlement reform.

Update 2: The NYT, of course:

In an interview after Ms. Bialek’s news conference, Joel P. Bennett, a lawyer for one of Mr. Cain’s anonymous accusers, said that Ms. Bialek’s claims were “very similar” in nature to the incident that occurred between his client and Mr. Cain.

Of course.

Update 3: Folks on the Twitter were flipping over the fact that Bialek is being sued By Illinois Lending and the lender is represented by David J. Axelrod & Associates. Wrong Axelrod (Obama’s is David M).* But it might suggest a financial motive of some sort.

*Original post linked to attorney David A. Axelrod. Thanks to Simon Templar for the correction.


L.A. Times: Teachers Are Cheating. The Fault Lies with . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:10 am

. . . the teachers? No, silly! The focus on standardized testing!

This front-page story is a fascinating display of blame-shifting, starting with the headline:

Focus on standardized tests may be pushing some teachers to cheat

The number of California teachers who have been accused of cheating, lesser misconduct or mistakes on standardized achievement tests has raised alarms about the pressure to improve scores.

The story continues the theme:

The stress was overwhelming.

For years, this veteran teacher had received exemplary evaluations but now was feeling pressured to raise her students’ test scores. Her principal criticized her teaching and would show up to take notes on her class. She knew the material would be used against her one day.

“My principal told me right to my face that she — she was feeling sorry for me because I don’t know how to teach,” the instructor said.

The Los Angeles educator, who did not want to be identified, is one of about three dozen in the state accused this year of cheating, lesser misconduct or mistakes on standardized achievement tests.

Whose fault is it?

Many accused teachers have denied doing anything wrong. But documents and interviews suggest that an increasing focus on test scores has created an atmosphere of such intimidation that the idea teachers would cheat has become plausible.

No blame for the teachers here!

Look: there are valid reasons to question a focus on standardized test scores. But there is pressure everywhere. All kinds of jobs have pressure.

That is not an excuse to cheat — and teachers, who help mold our children’s attitudes, should know that better than anyone.

This is rather typical of the L.A. Times: when it comes to a battle between personal responsibility and picking a scapegoat, personal responsibility loses out every time.

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