White House Dysfunction

Posted: Jan 08, 2012 1:45 PM
The NY Times piece teasing reporter Jodi Kantor's new book "The Obamas" puts White House dysfunction on display -- and even without adjusting for the fact that Kantor (like the rest of the Times) is sympathetic to the President and his family -- it's pretty remarkable.  

No, I'm not talking about the ritzy "Alice in Wonderland" Halloween bash secretly hosted at The White House (which has gone dutifully unreported by the MSM until now).

I'm talking basic stuff that shows something amiss about President Obama's leadership style.  What jumps out at me the most is Kantor's statement that "[staff] wondered: was the president using his wife to convey what he felt?" 

This is just weird.  Is the President so opaque even to the people around him that they can't tell whether he's pleased with the service they're rendering?  Is he so spineless (or so passive aggressive) that he has to use his wife as his attack proxy?  And if, indeed, he was relatively content with the way his people were working for him, didn't he owe it to them to ask his wife to back off?

What comes through is the sense that there is an oddly disconnected President sitting in the Oval Office -- and a First Lady who may ultimately be supportive of him, but who is pretty tough the whole way along.  The piece ends with an anecdote about Mrs. Obama publicly apologizing to the President at his birthday party for having been so tough on him.  All I know is that in most households, to merit that kind of public acknowledgement,  a wife's treatment of her husband would have had to be pretty extreme.

The book is hardly likely to be helpful to the President as election season approaches.  Sure, it may be "gossip" (as The White House will no doubt characterize it), but it's going to reveal some anecdotes that are likely to stick in people's minds.  And although media bias against conservatives/GOP is never going to abate, the book is also a real sign that the uncritical media Obama worship that propelled the President to office back in 2008 has somewhat abated.