- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

Getting crowded

“It is rumored that as many as 160 people will be in the West Wing under Mr. Obama,” Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“Under President George W. Bush there were about 60. My old, modest-sized office has been carved into four cubicles. This reduces the space for ad hoc meetings in personal offices, where so much West Wing work once took place,” said Mr. Rove, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Bush.

“The space crunch comes because Mr. Obama has moved several positions that once had offices in the EEOB into the West Wing. These include public liaison, intergovernmental affairs and political affairs. This reflects the importance he places on these offices’ marketing efforts.

“Space is also short because the ranks of senior staff have been increased. There is a chief of staff, of course, but also two deputy chiefs, and three senior advisers. Some senior aides now have chiefs of staff of their own. That is new.

“All of this matters because management structure affects decision-making and determines the range and quality of voices the president hears. That impacts policy outcomes.

“Mr. Obama’s changes could overload Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. As power that was once diffused to Cabinet officers is centralized in the White House, Mr. Emanuel will have to make more decisions and referee more turf wars than his predecessors. This will test his skills and likely inject chaos into the policy process as he prioritizes the decisions he can reasonably make.

“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.”

‘Educating’ Gillibrand

“What are the chances that New York’s new senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, will maintain her support for immigration enforcement after being rushed by a massive line of illegal-alien advocates and other members of the liberal elite?” Heather Mac Donald writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Gillibrand is said to harbor ambitions for much higher office. If she holds onto her immigration principles despite the intended sacking, she will have distinguished herself early on as a unique politician worthy of further attention,” the writer said.

“Gillibrand seems to have backed just about every measure to strengthen the immigration rule of law during her single term in Congress representing an Albany area district. She opposed amnesty and driver’s licenses for illegal aliens; she supported using local police to enforce immigration laws. She co-sponsored the SAVE Act, which would have required employers to verify the legal status of their employees, expedited deportation of illegals, and boosted border technology. She wanted to protect employers who require their workers to speak English from being sued as civil rights violators.

“Needless to say, these positions are anathema to the open-borders lobby, so earlier this week, the New York Times published what was virtually a set of serial press releases from that lobby denouncing her. ‘Borders on xenophobia,’ ‘extremist,’ a ‘slap to immigrant New Yorkers,’ and a ‘disappointing choice’ were among the predictable jabs from New York City politicians, Spanish-language newspapers and advocates.

“Particularly amusing was the charge from the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition that Gillibrand’s ‘past positions are pretty much out of line with the rest of New York State.’ Tell that to Eliot Spitzer, whose plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, which Gillibrand opposed, went up in flames just a little bit before he did himself.

“The New York Times, however, buttresses the conceit that Gillibrand represents just a small and irrelevant portion of New Yorkers, noting that she comes from an ‘overwhelmingly white district along New York’s eastern fringe,’ as if only white New Yorkers support the rule of law.

“The advocates know just what is needed: re-education. ‘I think she needs to be educated, frankly,’ says the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who is optimistic that she will ‘modify’ her immigration positions now that she is in the Senate.”

Caroline’s debacle

Caroline Kennedy, who finally bowed out of the competition for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vacated Senate seat from New York, “simply wasn’t ready for the political stage onto which she was thrust,” Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

Kirsten Gillibrand is, Mr. Rothenberg said.

“The newly appointed senator has poise and smarts, and while it isn’t clear whether she will have to win (or can win) a competitive primary in two years, she is a proven fundraiser and a proven vote-getter.

“I don’t know what pressures Kennedy felt to seek the open Senate seat, but it’s easy to imagine that her uncle, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (D), and the rest of the Kennedy clan might have pressured her into an unwise decision. And if that’s the case, it’s easy to feel sorry for her and less generous to the family members who came up with the bright idea of pushing her into a line of work that she never seemed to want.”

The other casualty of the Kennedy-Gillibrand mess, he said, is Democratic Gov. David Paterson, “who looks about as inept as embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) looks crooked.

“Whether Paterson wooed Caroline Kennedy for the vacancy or she injected herself into the mix - I’ve heard it both ways - the governor clearly left Kennedy to twist in the wind. In doing so, he looked weak and indecisive, and he annoyed and angered the same people in his own party that he had hoped to impress and satisfy. That can’t have been a good idea.”

Steelers fan

President Obama told reporters Thursday that he is pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni writes in a blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

He said the Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, is a “great story” and added that he is “closer to my age than anybody else on the field.”

He said, “I wish the Cardinals the best, they have been long suffering, it’s a great Cinderella story.”

But, Mr. Obama added, other than his hometown Chicago Bears, “I am a longtime Steelers fan.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] times.com.

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