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Time to Clean House?

Yuval Levin raises an interesting point about the Obami:

They have made it impossible for themselves to change course without a massive loss of face and of political capital. But however costly, that change will now need to come. You have to wonder if the people responsible for setting this course—and especially Rahm Emanuel and the House and Senate leadership—will still be standing when it’s all done with.

Obama isn’t big on firing people. It took a weekend of angst before Van Jones was shown the door. No one lost his job over the national security debacle that resulted in the Christmas Day near-catastrophe. So will he now clean house, after his domestic agenda has blown up in the Bluest State, his approval rating has plummeted, his party has formed a circular firing squad, and his congressional majorities are at risk? It seems that the Obama political brain trust — which thought its expertise extended to Afghanistan war strategy and the Middle East “peace process” — wasn’t very good at the jobs in which they were supposedly expert. Rahm Emanuel understood Congress. David Axelrod understood political salesmanship. But they, along with Obama of course, made a perfect mess in only a year.

It might be smart for Obama to toss some of them out. For starters, it might elevate the tone of the White House, which has been languishing in the partisan sewers for a year. And it might signal to panicked Democrats in the House and Senate that Obama doesn’t intend to plow them under. But most of all, it would be a message to the country that the president has learned a lesson and is setting a new direction.

Other presidents have shoved advisers aside at opportune moments. George W. Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld. Ronald Reagan fired Donald Regan. Bill Clinton fired Mack McLarty. In all those cases, the presidents and the country were the better for it. Obama might think hard about following his predecessors’ lead. Really, he could hardly do worse than his current staff.


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