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White House Staff Battling White House Staff


There's no war like a civil war, and one seems to have broken out in the Obama White House. Now the public is learning about it. Every president has numerous assistants, of course, and, being human, they tend to compete. Sometimes it is over ideology (as under FDR, who encouraged it), sometimes it is over tactics (as under Reagan, who couldn't figure out how to stop it). In the Obama White House it seems to be worse--it seems to be personal revenge as well as rivalry.

When such differences make it into print, you usually can assume that a little bird gave the reporter a self-serving exclusive. In the Obama case, there have been a number of columns attacking Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

These were answered by a column of veteran Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank defending Emanuel, and--worse, at it happens, for Emanuel--showing how he frequently has been wiser than the President, as well as the other assistants close to the throne.

Now comes a column by Colbert King, also in the Post, saying, Rahm, you have overplayed your hand.

If you are President Obama reading this sort of thing with Mrs. Obama at the breakfast table, how does the conversation go, do you think? Not so good for anyone, including the Chief of Staff.

Normally it is prudent for staff not to be quoted or even described. But, in any case, it never helps to be described as having given the president good advice that he failed to adopt--failed to adopt, according to Milbank, repeatedly. Maybe Rahm Emanuel didn't plant the Milbank story, but someone did.

There probably will be some tension around the table at next Monday morning's Senior Staff Meeting.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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