MEDIA

Rove Advice To Obama: Work Less, Cut Staff

Oh, no! Karl Rove is worried that there are too many people occupying his old office in the West Wing! It's been "carved into four cubicles," and it totally cuts down on all the way-cool Aaron Sorkin-esque pedeconferencing that he used to enjoy as he roamed the halls, crafting the ideas that shaped America! This is what he says in today's Wall Street Journal:

This is one of many of Mr. Obama's changes to the management structure of the White House that will likely undermine his stated aims and create a more centralized and possibly incoherent policy process.

Let's recall this review of the Bush White House's totally coherent policy process, from John DiIulio, who gamely attempted to be Bush's first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives:

"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you've got is everything--and I mean everything -- being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

Yeah, so, who wouldn't want to hear all about Karl Rove's managerial advice? Rove, amid the clatter and bang of downward plunging Anvils of Irony, raining all around him, goes on to clarify the terrible things Obama is doing with his inter-departmental org-chart:

As president he is the first occupant of the Oval Office to give his director of political affairs -- who coordinates the president's involvement with his party and other campaign related activities -- an office in the West Wing.

Shock and amazement, right? Of course, Karl Rove himself may have worn the wonkish title "Assistant to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the President" (that's three people, occupying his office!), but you'd have to be a plum fool to believe that Rove didn't have a hand in coordinating "the president's involvement with his party and other campaign related activities" from an office in the West Wing. The main reason he has a column in the Wall Street Journal is that he was coordinating those activities, and supposedly has insight into "politics." I mean, look at this map! There's Rove's office! Right there in the West Wing!

Now, to be fair, Obama's decision to set up his staff in the way he has could end up creating organizational conflicts. It falls to those in charge of managing all the various personalities to manage those personalities. Rove feels that Obama's utilization of "czars" might end up undermining certain Cabinet secretaries, and in theory, he could end up being proved correct. Rove's cautions, however, come with disingenuous nonsense, such as his concern that Carol Browner being tapped as "climate czar" might "diminish the influence of the Environmental Protection Agency." Short of actually burning their facility to the ground, it's hard to see how Obama can outpace Bush in diminishing that agency.

Rove also feels that Obama's establishing a bad precedent in actually asking people to work:

Mr. Obama's tendency to work late into the night will also pose problems. Politico.com reports that the White House staff is "preparing for a return to long nights, heavy weekend shifts." Requiring a senior staff that meets at 7:30 a.m. to work until 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. will quickly cause burnout and diminish the quality of advice and oversight.

Well, some may chafe at working long hours, but it is the White House, after all. A lot of people applied for those jobs knowing the deal. And it's pretty clear that voters weren't looking for a president who could challenge Bush's vacation record.

Nevertheless, with precious little evidence on hand to suggest that any sort of protracted power struggle has commenced, Rove asserts:

In addition to creating a protracted power struggle within the West Wing, Mr. Obama's management decisions may lead to more intrusive, larger government policies gaining traction. Why? Because left-leaning aides will be unimpeded by the White House's budget director or cabinet secretaries as they push new policies.