Thursday night I turned on the "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," expecting one of the lead stories to be about the president's chief political adviser, David Axelrod, announcing that he's quitting, on the heels of other resignations this week coming from top Obama aides.
Well, not just aides.
In just the past few days, we have learned that the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, is quitting. So is his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who may leave as early as next month to run for mayor of Chicago. And now, the news today, the president's senior political adviser is going back to Chicago — ostensibly to run Obama's 2012 re-election.
But for the first half of the NBC show, before I clicked off, not a word about these developments.
Instead, the "lead" news story was that Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg was donating $100 million to the Newark, N.J., schools. The network suggested he did so as a PR move to deflect criticisms made of him in a soon-to-be-released Hollywood docudrama.
An interesting story indeed — but nothing compared to the story about the wholesale departure of the president's most senior advisers!
Perhaps it's the media shielding, once again, the president and his party from negative news on the eve of a historic election.
These resignations can't be welcome. Why would the Obama White House want a wave of resignations announcements so close to a critical congressional election?
From the president's point of view, this has to be the worst possible news. It not only looks bad, but adds to the confusion that seems to have cast a pall over the whole executive branch.
For each of the individuals — Summers, Axelrod, and Emanuel — it makes great sense. They apparently see a sinking ship and realize they need to jump off into a safe place.
Their resignations, at this time, are a slap in the face to the president. But, on the upside for them, these three can move onto other, more significant positions in the private and public sector, while still leveraging their contacts in the Obama administration.
This is an extremely important point. It is very valuable to be a former presidential aide for a president still serving in the White House. With his immense national network, just think of all the money Emanuel will be able to raise for his bid to run the Daley machine.
Smart guy that Emanuel. Ditto for Summers and Axelrod.
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