When A Schedule Is More Than A Schedule

Close observers of the State Department noticed something different this afternoon: on the daily schedule distributed by the department includes, for the first time, information on Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg's appointments.

Until recently, the daily release included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's schedule only. No longer.

Steinberg will meet Wednesday with Singaporean Deputy Prime MInister Teo Chee Hean.

The inclusion of Steinberg suggests that the department is aware that it needs to do a better job of integrating Steinberg's portfolio into its general communications strategy and show how the leadership of the department acts in concert.

"Jim has always been an integral part of the Secretary's team, but we haven't always shown how crucial he is to State's mission," said Philippe Reines, Clinton's communications consiglieri. "This is a one simple way to fix that."

The Beltway rumor mill often includes gossip that Steinberg isn't happy, or that he's not seen as an integral part of President Obama's foreign policy team, or that his efforts aren't appreciated.

Reines, who rarely speaks on the record, responded to a question about whether Steinberg is indeed unhappy in this way: "I'm not a shrink, and I have to confess that we don't sit around in a circle often enough exploring our feelings. But what is crystal clear to everyone is that Jim is smart, dedicated, and valued."

Steinberg has a been a principal adviser on issues ranging from Iran -- he is the administration's team lead on cybersecurity and China, but his work often goes unnoticed.   On Friday, he is said to have given a tongue-lashing to the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, about that country's actions during a visit by Vice President Biden.  Within the department, he is known as a micromanager, and his relationships with other key foreign policy actors, including the National Security Staff and the Pentagon are said to be strained.

When President Obama selected Gen. Jim Jones as National Security Adviser, he asked Clinton to make Steinberg her deputy -- and she did. Since day one, prognosticators have been predicting friction between Steinberg and Clinton, although none has publicly surfaced.