Team of benchwarmers, part 2

So the president, on the ropes in the polls, is going to take to speak to a joint session of Congress about the most important issue confronting the nation … the economy. So who does the White House offer up to support and elaborate upon and spin his message? Why the White House, of course. ...

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

So the president, on the ropes in the polls, is going to take to speak to a joint session of Congress about the most important issue confronting the nation ... the economy. So who does the White House offer up to support and elaborate upon and spin his message? Why the White House, of course. Not a cabinet member in sight. 

According to Politico's Mike Allen, the political brain trust around the president can think of no one better to drive their message home than themselves. We will get Bill Daley, Jay Carney, Valerie Jarrett, Dan Pfeiffer, Melody Barnes, and maybe a soupçon of one actual economic policy advisor, albeit one from within the White House, Gene Sperling. The treasury secretary? The labor secretary ... given that it is a jobs speech? Whoever is running Commerce (at last check, that would be the acting deputy secretary)? The sub cabinet? Nowhere to be seen.

At this moment of great challenge, it appears the White House is circling the wagons ... in a way that is keeping out, failing to utilize and undermining the standing of the rest of its team.

So the president, on the ropes in the polls, is going to take to speak to a joint session of Congress about the most important issue confronting the nation … the economy. So who does the White House offer up to support and elaborate upon and spin his message? Why the White House, of course. Not a cabinet member in sight. 

According to Politico’s Mike Allen, the political brain trust around the president can think of no one better to drive their message home than themselves. We will get Bill Daley, Jay Carney, Valerie Jarrett, Dan Pfeiffer, Melody Barnes, and maybe a soupçon of one actual economic policy advisor, albeit one from within the White House, Gene Sperling. The treasury secretary? The labor secretary … given that it is a jobs speech? Whoever is running Commerce (at last check, that would be the acting deputy secretary)? The sub cabinet? Nowhere to be seen.

At this moment of great challenge, it appears the White House is circling the wagons … in a way that is keeping out, failing to utilize and undermining the standing of the rest of its team.

David Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017. Twitter: @djrothkopf
Tag: War

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.