Podesta Not Being a Good Consigliere

Oct 14, 2010

By David Chavern 

John Podesta has been a close confidant and advisory to Democratic leaders for almost two decades.  He was Chief of Staff to President Clinton, head of President Obama’s transition team and, in the 1990’s counselor to Democratic Leader Senator Thomas A. Daschle.  He is a long-time political “consigliere” of the highest order, and has used that position to build a very successful, “progressive” think tank named the Center for American Progress (“C.A.P.”).  How he specifically got C.A.P. started -- and how he keeps it going -- isn’t fully understood since it doesn’t disclose its donors.  We do know, though, that he has received significant funding from George Soros and Marion and Herbert Sandler (founders of subprime giant Golden West Financial).

The first rule of thumb of any good consigliere is to protect the principal and keep him/her from doing dumb things.  In picking yet another senseless and misguided fight with the Chamber -- and arming his principal with bad arguments and just plain bad facts -- he has led the President and his administration down a blind alley.  In fact, Podesta and C.A.P. have fundamentally damaged the credibility of the White House and framed the President and Vice President as desperate partisans grasping for straws. Not a good move right before the election.

While I am sure that Podesta would argue that he is energizing the President’s base, the fact is that nothing is more draining to a party than to have its leader appear to be recklessly flailing out at opponents.  Let’s just say that it doesn’t inspire confidence among the troops.

My suggestion would be for Podesta to drop out of the consigliere business -- at least for awhile -- and go back to thinking big liberal thoughts on behalf of well-heeled donors.

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