Monday, May 27, 2013

No end to scandals in sight for embattled Obama White House

Batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to clear.

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That’s the advice veteran Washington Democrats are urging on a White House that has been embattled for a full two weeks by the triad of controversies revolving around the IRS, Benghazi and the Justice Department’s seizure of reporters’ phone records. No-one expects the pressure to let up anytime soon.
“There is blood in the water and the sharks are circling,” said Jim Manley, who spent years as the top communications aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) before moving on to a career at a lobbying firm.
“The last thing the White House needs to do is to make any unnecessary quick moves — by making dramatic personnel changes, for example.”
Mike McCurry, who labored as White House Press Secretary for President Bill Clinton during the feverish early days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, opted for a different marine metaphor.
“The temptation, when you have some variety of these feeding frenzies, is only to worry about the churning water and not the longer-term horizon,” he said. “The critical thing is to not lose sight of the larger agenda that the president got elected to execute.”
The advice from the likes of Manley and McCurry is finding a receptive audience at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. McCurry recently spoke with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, and came away impressed with the discipline McDonough was instilling in the rest of the staff.
McDonough, as has been widely reported, wants to cap at 10 percent the amount of White House time that gets spent responding to the furors of the moment rather than advancing the president’s broader agenda.
Among other White House staff, solace is taken from a number of factors.
First, they believe that there is no direct link between the president and any of the misbehavior that is being probed.
Second, they contend that the only thing that could truly jeopardize him, or his top aides, is inappropriate meddling in future investigations or those currently underway.
Third, they say that maintaining a steady focus on the large issues of national importance will pay off in the long run.

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