February 17, 2013
White House: Control Freaks?
Whether Obama believes that America can or should shape the outcome, the greater Middle East will remain an American problem, and he will need to give his next Secretary of State, John Kerry, the authority that he denied his last one, to put the country’s prestige on the line by wading deep into the morass.
— from Long Engagements by George Packer (The New Yorker)
In a recent “Talk of the Town” piece on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy legacy, the New Yorker laid out the case that the Administration exercises a stranglehold over the State Department. Reading it, I couldn’t help thinking about this White House photo posted four days before. If the subject on the table is immigration rather than Israel, the expressions of Obama and his “team of rivals” circling the end of the table still seem noteworthy. With Arne Duncan’s non-plussed expression, Obama’s “hmm, I see” and all those other hands to faces and mouths, Kerry sure seems to evidence the weak sell.
Posting a photo like this to the White House website as well as its Flickr page, you have to wonder how much the Administration is highlighting immigration as a priority or demonstrating how much the operating model at 1600 is top down. By the way, the Benghazi brouhaha might be water under the bridge by now, but this photo (like a previous White House image we highlighted) again reinforces which way the influence flows.
(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: President Barack Obama listens to Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting on immigration with Cabinet members and advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 7, 2013.)