The storyline is this: a bulldog chief of staff makes his opinions known loud and clear. The president notes them, and chooses to do things differently. Some speculate the chief of staff is coming on too strong. But when items on the president's to-do list get mired in Capitol Hill politics, reporters start wondering if the Commander in Chief should have studied his own chief of staff's playbook a bit more closely.
The real-world pundits have suggested Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may be on his way out the door over such differences of opinion. But the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet says that isn't so, according to her conversations with Emanuel.
"This is all his presidency, his agenda, and that is who I am serving," Emanuel told Sweet in January.
Other insiders agreed. Advisor David Axelrod called Emanuel "heroic" in his efforts to serve the president's agenda. But even if that's so, those on the outside peering in don't seem convinced.
Sweet notes that things are tense in the White House, but that's a far cry from saying there's a substantive rift of any kind. And the president is doing everything he can to quietly quash any rumors to that effect.
The president even held an Oval Office meeting with senior staff to address such stories circulating in the media, Sweet reported:
- "He reminded them that it is 'one for all and all for one' in his administration. There were there to get things done for the nation, and they were not in the white House to engage in what Obama considered petty Washington intrigue."
It's clear the president sees such articles as a distraction from his agenda. But will he allow that distraction to affect work in the West Wing, or will he find a way to get Washington reporters to move on? The answer to that question could ultimately decide who stays and who goes on the president's staff.