As Barack Obama’s presidency stumbles through its first year, some of his supporters are wondering what ever happened to the “No Drama Obama” of those heady days of the campaign. For example, Steve Clemons, unhappy about the demise of ultra-liberal White House Counsel Greg Craig, writes that Craig’s fall and the leaks associated with it
stand in sharp contrast to the internal vow of key stakeholders in Barack Obama’s campaign, as reported in David Plouffe’s insider account Audacity to Win–whom he says vowed not to allow “@#%holes” and leaks and the blame game to disrupt any aspect of their campaign. When problems arose or mistakes were made, the president and his team were forthright and dealt with each other directly and confessed their sins, when they committed them, to the public.
There’s no mystery here, though. It’s easy to avoid drama when you’re running a campaign that’s being propelled to success by the powerful forces working in Obama’s favor last year — most notably a failing economy, a massive national sense of Bush fatigue, and an utterly compliant MSM. It’s much more difficult when you’re attempting to run a country and now must deal with some of problems that once worked in favor of your campaign.
Clemons sounds shocked and appalled that, in this administration, Craig was the victim of leaks:
What just happened to Gregory Craig should not have happened in Obama Land; it’s something from what Dick Cheney would have called “The Dark Side”–where insinuation and character assassination were leaked to undermine a foe.
But, of course, jockeying for power in manipulative ways didn’t start with Cheney and no intelligent person could have imagined that it would end with him. This was the point I made when I criticized Bart Gelman’s book Angler, an account of the Cheney vice presidency. As I put it:
In the Washington of Angler, the only pairs of sharp elbows appear to belong to the vice president and his counsel, David Addington. Everyone else plays “fair,” never seeking an edge for the purpose of advancing an agenda.
There are no snakes outside of the vice president’s office, not even Richard Armitage. Indeed, no one outside of that very small circle would even think of cutting an adversary out of the loop, or of letting their stated expert or scientific views be influenced by an agenda. It is inconceivable, for example, that CIA officials would, for the purpose of limiting the administration’s policy options, conclude that Iran halted its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons (a position that, to my knowledge, even the leading Democratic presidential candidates took no heed of during the campaign). Nor would anyone adopt one view of the prerogatives of an office when he holds it and another view when he holds a competing job. There may not even be such a thing as a “competing job” in this harmonious village.
Did Clemons really expect that there would be no untoward leaks or back-stabbing in “Obama Land”? It’s difficult to believe he could have been that naive; more likely he’s just using the “No Drama Obama” theme as a rhetorical device to vent his frustration over the fate of a guy he likes. But you never know.