The White House is in the process of reinventing itself. Two prominent members of President Obama's brain trust--David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs--are on their way out, and New York magazine's John Heilemann recently detailed the broader process of fixing what's failed and giving the Obama administration a new identity. A big part of that reinvention, Heileman reports, will be the arrival of former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe as a senior White House strategist:
For the moment, Plouffe sits in a windowless cubby across the hall from Axelrod's lair, readying himself to assume a range of responsibilities more sprawling than anyone's save Daley. He will be in charge of communications and the press office. He will oversee the political shop. He will work with Jarrett in managing outreach to interest groups and business. And he will be the White House's de facto chief strategist--an assignment about which he has views so crisp and sharp they could cut glass.
"As you know, I'm a big believer in strategy," Plouffe tells me. "This is an industry where it's really hard not to get driven to the tactics, because you're scored every day more on the tactical, and because internally, you say, 'We're proud that we stuck to our strategy today,' but you get no external ratification of that. You normally get criticism. So part of the goal is to have a longer-term horizon, which is the way [Obama] is instinctively oriented. And I think that's gonna be a test each and every day: Can you look down the horizon a little bit and not be buffeted by the winds of the moment?"
In this respect, Plouffe, even more than Daley, is the obverse of the former White House chief of staff: Calm, cool, and relentlessly collected, he is the anti-Rahm. It may be that Emanuel's manic energy and deal-making prowess were essential to Obama's achievements in the first two years; certainly the president believes that. But he also clearly feels that in the phase ahead, he needs more of the rigor and discipline that Plouffe can provide.
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