Last week was not a good one in the Obama Administration's drive to have one more crack at a health care bill in Congress.
First: Of the six national polls measuring President Obama's job approval taken over the past three weeks only one is over 50 percent. None of the others have him over 48 percent.
To successfully twist arms on the Hill, any White House needs political leverage which is measured by public approval (or, in the case of the Obama team, public adoration). With the President's approval ratings under water, using the real or implied threat of Presidential unhappiness is not likely to gain many votes among recalcitrant members of the Democratic House Caucus on the health care bill.
Second: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel has rolled-out a full-scale "None-of-This-is-My-Fault" PR campaign which, in Washington, is always viewed as the precursor to a resignation ruefully submitted and regretfully accepted.
If Rahm is on his way out, or people believe he's on his way out, he is not useful as an arm twister.
David Axelrod is the most Senior of Advisors at the Obama White House. In a NY Times piece yesterday, Emmanuel and Axelrod were compared this:
"Recent news reports have cast the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as the administration's chief pragmatist, and Mr. Axelrod, by implication, as something of a swooning loyalist."
Can't send a "swooning loyalist" up to the Hill to twist those arms. No Independence Avenue cred.
A couple of months ago, President Obama called in his campaign manager, David Plouffe, to work out of the Democratic National Committee offices and oversee the 2010 House, Senate and Gubernatorial campaigns.
According to the Atlantic's Mark Ambinder:
Here's the key: Plouffe doesn't report to David Axelrod, or the deputy White House chief of staff; or to the DNC executive director; or to Gov. Tim Kaine, the DNC chairman; or to the White House political director.
He reports to the president. Informally. But this informal channel is Plouffe's and Plouffe's alone. Plouffe is the one who has the power to make the gears move more efficiently.
Here's how this works. Plouffe works out of the DNC but chats on a regular basis with the Democratic House, Senate, and Governor campaign committees. They NEED the President to do mega-events to raise money for those running for re-election in a tough year.