But the underlying issue is a real one
Obama's statement was somewhere between an oversimplication and a falsehood. But the hysterical stories missed it.
Any taxonomy of first friends includes a few familiar types. There’s the amiable glad-hander destined for the outer Cabinet, like George W. Bush crony Don Evans. There’s the scheming, scandal-prone loyalist, like the Clinton hanger-on Harry Thomason, of Travelgate infamy. And then there’s the discreet consigliere who serves alternatively as fixer, sounding board, chief surrogate, and all-around defender of the faith. Personal friends with such outsize influence are actually quite rare in presidential politics. Within recent administrations, only Valerie Jarrett really fits the profile.
Welcome to TNR’s 2011 List Issue. In putting the issue together, we had one major priority: to avoid creating a power list featuring anyone who regularly dominates headlines. Instead, we had a different idea: What if we revealed something about D.C. by documenting who quietly wields power? From there, we began to hatch other ideas for lists, and we realized that—while they can certainly be cheap gimmicks—lists can also convey a lot about a city. Below is the first list from the issue: Washington’s most powerful, least famous people.
It is not actually his region. Still, with the arrogance that is so characteristic of his behavior in matters he knows little about (which is a lot of matters), he entered the region as if in a triumphal march. But it wasn’t the power and sway of America that he was representing in Turkey and in Egypt. For the fact is that he has not much respect for these representations of the United States. In the mind of President Obama, in fact, these are what have wreaked havoc with our country’s standing in the world.
Earlier today I wondered what Ron Suskind's forthcoming book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, would have to say about White House chief of staff (and scapegoat du jour) Bill Daley. One thing it says, I have since learned, is that in September 2008, as polls were starting to show that Obama was the likely winner, a meeting was called with three former Clinton chiefs of staff: John Podesta (who would later be Obama's transition chief), Leon Panetta (now defense secretary) and Erskine Bowles (later co-chairman, with former Sen.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett would like to make one thing exceedingly clear: The Obama administration is not bad for business. No way. No how. Not one little bit. “We are not anti-business,” the president’s chief liaison to the business community stresses to me over the phone one afternoon in late July, an edge of frustration ruffling her usually calm-as-cream voice.
There are figures in history who wish to leave behind what Malraux called “a scar on the map,” but it was Barack Obama’s desire to leave behind a new map, and one without scars. His promise of global transformation was outrageously genuine, underwritten by an invincible belief in his own unprecedentedness and in his own magic; and it now looks like a personal delusion enlarged by political excitement into a popular delusion.