Tony Blankley
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White House counsel Greg Craig: "We'll set up a process."

To be at the signing ceremony and not know what he was ordering done with the terrorist inmates is a level of ignorance about equivalent to being a groom at the altar in a wedding ceremony and asking who it is you are marrying.

Once again, in the third item -- the stimulus process -- his lack of personal involvement in its design is curious. He recently said (incorrectly, I believe) that his presidency will be judged only on whether he fixes the economy or not. Thus, as he has identified the stimulus as essential to the recovery process, his willingness to let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid design a bill that, even now that it's passed, Mr. Obama has continued to criticize as needing improvement (on bank executive compensation) leaves one puzzled as to why he didn't use his currently vast political clout with his own party allies to shape a bill more to his liking.

The final item to examine here is his repeated campaign and post-campaign commitment to bipartisanship. While he was gracious in inviting leading Republicans to the White House for a Super Bowl party, he permitted his congressional allies to completely shut out (except for the three collaborators) all Senate Republicans and all House Republicans, including their leadership and the GOP's titular leader, Sen. John McCain, in the drafting of the bill and the final conference committee.

He says he wants bipartisanship. Why would he permit his congressional allies to kill any hope of bipartisanship by their egregious conduct?

I can think of four possible explanations for this almost unprecedented presidential detachment from the decision making of policies the president publicly declared to be vital to the country and his presidency:

1) He is a very, very big-picture man, and he delegates decisions even on the central points of vital issues.

2) For tactical reasons, he decided these matters were not worth using up political chits.

3) He is either hesitant or unskilled at management, and he let matters drift until it seemed too late to intervene personally.

4) Or his personality type leaves him surprisingly uninterested in things that aren't personally about him.

Whatever the reason, this level of presidential detachment from high policy decision making is dangerous in a White House that has so many czars and other senior players (the West Wing staff is reputed to be more than 130 -- about double the usual number) combined with emissaries and strong-willed Cabinet secretaries. It may well lead to what has been called (regarding another country's government) "the immanent structurelessness to the running of the state."

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Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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