The president’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, conceded in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that President Obama lost control of the stimulus bill debate:
Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.
President Obama has lost more than a singular message on one piece of legislation. He’s dangerously close to outsourcing the power of his office to Capitol Hill. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (Clinton learned the hard way) well understood the danger of unchecked power on Capitol Hill and labored to protect the power of the office of the Executive from the bureaucratic intrusions of the House and Senate.
President Obama will soon find that his biggest threat may come from Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, both of whom are taking their party farther to the left than voters ever expected. If there are no signs of economic recovery in nine to twelve months the stimulus legislation will become a millstone around the neck of both Congress and the Executive, each of which will not have the excuse of bipartisan support to cover their political hides on 2010.