Gregory Craig, Scapegoat or Failure?

Debate splits, but not along partisan lines

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White House counsel Gregory Craig may be fired, reports the Wall Street Journal. Debate is split along non-partisan lines over why. Is he a poor performer who had it coming, as several pundits put it? Or merely a scapegoat?

Deserving villain. The Weekly Standard's Rachel Abrams pegged Craig for "some of the most egregious missteps" of the Obama administration. "It couldn't happen to a more deserving candidate," she wrote. Taylor Marsh hammered Craig from the left, citing his missteps on Guantanamo policy and failure to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." Marsh's conclusion: "So far, he's not done the President much good."

Spencer Ackerman wrote in the Washington Independent that Craig made an "unforced error" on failing to get Congress to go along with the shutdown of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo. "I've heard months of gripes from Hill staffers, particularly but not exclusively on the Democratic side, that the White House had cut Congress entirely out of the loop on Guantanamo," he wrote.

Sacrificial lamb. Ed Morrissey called Craig a "scapegoat" for Obama, arguing that "the problems seen in the list of issues with Craig didn't come from the White House counsel. They came as the natural consequence of asinine policymaking, and that starts and ends with Barack Obama himself." Ackerman, despite criticizing Craig's performance, agreed that he is a "scapegoat," writing that Craig "angered the leadership of the intelligence community" with the release of the torture memos.

Emptywheel blamed Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, writing, "this rumored discussion to can him seems to instead stem from a desire to scapegoat him because Rahm screwed up health care reform." She elaborated, "Craig is in trouble because he supported the right decisions on policies, but the political people in the White House mismanaged implementing those decisions."

Just for fun, here is an old and somewhat over-the-top ad urging Obama to fire Craig. It was produced last year by the conservative group American Future Fund urging Obama to fire Craig, as was this second ad.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.