Amateur Hour at 1600
Quick! What's the name of the White House Chief of Staff?
I didn't know, either. It's Denis McDonough.
He was only appointed to the post by President Barack Obama January 25, meaning he has been on the job for less than a month, but yesterday, he showed being a foreign policy expert does not a political expert make when he got himself involved in immigration reform.
What happened was someone leaked a copy of the Administration's plan which CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante reported “was not a planned leak.”
Rather than just coming out and saying it was half baked, McDonough went on CBS' Face Nation to claim the White House figured it needed a Plan B in case the Congress gets “involved in some typical Washington back and forth sideshow here.”
Fact is, of all the issues that you would think Rs and Ds would be at loggerheads about on Capitol Hill, immigration would be near the top of the list, yet they seem to be making pretty good progress on trying to come up with a comprehensive plan.
At issue isn't just what to do about the tens of millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally. It is what to do about the tens of millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally that will treat them with dignity, but not act as a giant magnet attracting tens of millions of more people to drift across one border or another.
The details of what all the parties are proposing is for another time. Yesterday, the President was playing golf with Tiger Woods. The House and Senate are on a two week holiday, and the guy who had been the Chief of Staff for a grand total of 23 days appeared to be rooting for the Congress to fail so the White House could swoop in and save the day.
McDonough is, in fact, a foreign policy expert. Prior to his appointment as CoS, he was Deputy National Security Advisor and had been on the National Security Council team prior to that.
But, hanging about on the White House campus, being photographed in the Situation Room on the night the Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden, and being allowed to walk into the Oval Office more-or-less at will, is not training for stepping into the middle of what, from all accounts, a very delicate negotiation.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said, “Leaking this out does set things in the wrong direction. Is the President looking for a partisan advantage or a bipartisan law?”
The Senators involved are: Democrats Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Michael F. Bennet (Colo.), and Republicans John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.).
It would be interesting to know if any of the Democratic Senators in on the negotiations have made it known to the White House that McDonough was not helpful yesterday.
At a minimum it was amateur hour at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) made big news, and generated huge guffaws when he had the audacity to take a drink of water during his State of the Union response last week. Rubio is not one to go into hiding over such things.
In fact, his team went ahead and have white plastic water bottles with the name “RUBIO” printed in red down one side.
They've sold over 3,000 bottles and raised more than $100,000 for his PAC.
Seems Sen. Rubio is getting the last laugh.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to a bio of Denis McDonough, to the USA Today coverage of the President's immigration plan, and a photo of the Rubio water bottle.
The Mullfoto is of an all-purpose road sign from Morocco that we might want to adopt here.
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