Van Jones signing that 9/11 truther petition doomed him. It should doom him. That's how a clean hit happens. Ditto w/Daschle. Ditto w/Geithner. The only reason Geithner stayed was b/c (1) losing a treasury secretary in a depression is unacceptable, (2) damage was worst if he left.
No, the real problem Van Jones spectacularly illustrates is the communications issues the White House has had and a front page diary illustrates another example from today's Sunday shows.
I place the blame on two things.
(1) Robert Gibbs
(2) The Lack of a War Room
(1) Robert Gibbs needs to man up and cut people down to size. When this school thing for example came up he could have pointed to previous administrations speaking to school children, actual political rhetoric in those conversations, that Bush I too had kids write to him to, to question the MSM and ask why the fuck they haven't provided this context or looked at the truth of the matter. He could have done what Little Green Footballs did for Van Jones. Defended him on the merits and then have him resign using the same words he did: b/c then it would be clear that Van Jones had been smeared out by right wing zealots and the conversation would turn to that rather than the president throwing people under the bus.
(2) The lack of a war room. I'm sorry but the Clinton war room kept President Clinton alive because they ANTICIPATED the attacks to come and they worked to not only reframe them but head them off at the pass. I don't see that here; this administration is to passive in the face of these attacks and relies on the President to push back. That's not Barack Obama's fucking job.
When I look at the political decisions made and the progress on health care reform I see a good White House operation. They got a reconciliation agreement on health care that guarantees a reform bill that will move the ball forward and likely be better than the bill of 60 they could have gotten. They have the threat of the EPA regulating carbon to push climate change legislation. They have done the right thing on Gitmo and created a robust foreign policy.
All the problems that have plagued this white house have started IMO in the White House briefing room and the communications department.
(1) August: The White House had no plan. They could have gone for the majority of town halls peaceful argument while calling for more progressives to attend these meetings. They didn't. They did their own town halls, hoped for some moment of confrontation that never appeared, and allowed a contrast to be created where the mother fuckers on the right said the White house was rigging these meetings!!!!!
This from the AstroTurf party!
(2) Cloture: The President should have begun making the cloture argument early when they hit 60 votes and it became expected. In public and private it should have been made clear everyone is expected to vote for cloture and if they don't there will be reprisals. This is a confrontation that needed to happen and should have while the president had approval ratings in the 60 and could point to the dysfunction a necessity for a super majority created in California.
Those are only two things. But there are more and they all come back to a failure by this White House to communicate. It's a failure borne by a reliance on President Obama to sell everything. It's a failure you recognize by how visible the president has been.
Why have a White House Spokesman? In keeping the President out front constantly and not creating effective surrogates and driving a coherent message the WH staff opened the president up to be bloodied.
Take a cue from Regan, Clinton, and Bush: Gibbs should be hitting back hard, being the bad guy, and Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod and the cabinet members should be talking policy and hitting back.
The President should come out to claim victory, only. If he's out front; it means something is screwed up.
The White House needs to look at it's Communications operation. It may have gotten President Obama this gig; but it's failing to help him now, frankly.
The President has gotten further than ANYONE has on health care and has reconciliation in his pocket to ensure passage. This political reality should be trumpted because it is a strong stand from the administration, helps in negotiations, and undercuts the he's weak and nothing can get done meme the Republicans are trying to circulate. Something that simple would refocus the horse race aspect of the debate, put that to rest, and force a new line from journalists and allow the WH to push them to cover the specifics of the issues.
Similarly: Why hasn't the White House pushed Sec. Sellibus and Director Orzag out there more to lay this out? They're good on camera, they know the issues, and the more they talk the less the president would have to do so! Interviews, op eds in local papers, a media campaign pushing this would have been easy to set up for August. And better than the town halls IMO.
The White House needs to rethink it's Communications arm.