WHPS: Who Cares?

Howard Fineman celebrates Jay Carney’s elevation to the post of White House Press Secretary because it shows Barack Obama’s understanding of the need to surround himself with savvy insiders:

[Obama] is setting up his reelection campaign back in Chicago, but that is an expensive piece of window dressing unlikely to convince people that he is somehow still, if he ever was, a guy from the heartland. David Axelrod and the gang will be back in the Windy City, but the operation will be run by a Chicagoan-cum-Washingtonian with national and even global ties — Bill Daley — and a cadre of the best and the brightest of the Clinton administration who came to the city to do good and stayed to do well.

Obama came to the White House in the manner of Jimmy Carter, with whom he was, early on, mistakenly compared. But while Carter never expanded his circle beyond the “Georgians,” Obama has, with stunning swiftness, retooled his administration to play hardball in the D.C. League.

This seems to me to be a reference to a change that simply never happened; there was no point in time when the Obama administration was dominated by “Georgians.” What’s striking about the change between Rahm Emannuel and Bill Daley at the top is that the two guys share the exact same biographical qualities of being DC insiders who are also people Obama knows from Chicago. Beyond Emannuel, the key departed members of the Obama White House Mark One were Axelrod, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag. Axelrod’s being swapped out for David Plouffe and Summers & Orzag were never “Georgians.” The entire argument that a change is happening really needs to rest on the Gibbs for Carney swap which, in turn, seems to rest on an almost comical overestimation of the role of the White House press secretary.

Apparently this overestimation is widespread in the press in a way that I can only hope reflects cynical source-greasing rather than genuine confusion. But I would say that a good rule of thumb is that whoever has a lot of time to spend batting around questions from the media is, by definition, not spending a ton of time offering input on questions of national significance.