Slow News Day? Obama White House 'Happier Workplace' Thanks to New Team

Slow news Friday? In "With a Change in Top Aides, The West Wing Quiets Down," reporter Jackie Calmes fawned over Obama's top aides, chief of staff William Daley and adviser David Plouffe, as a welcome balm after the frenzied working atmosphere set by former chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel (though the paper hardly maintained a drumbeat of criticism during Rahm's reign).

Blogging at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin says the Times piece "gives 'fluff' a bad name....maybe the Times should look inward and be asking how such suck-uppery gets passed off as news."

When Rahm Emanuel was the White House chief of staff, decisions about what President Obama would say in the short address he delivers on the radio and Internet each Saturday changed so often that speechwriters would wait until Friday to write.

But since William M. Daley took over two months ago, and David Plouffe succeeded David Axelrod as communications chief, the decision is made early - and it sticks.

Calmes glossed over the necessity of Obama's ideological trimming, describing the Republican takeover of the House and huge gains in the Senate as merely a "new power dynamic."

And Mr. Obama faces a new power dynamic: instead of leading an all-Democratic government, he heads a divided one in which neither he nor the Republican majority in the House can accomplish much without compromise.

"Times are different," Mr. Daley said last month in the round table with reporters, hosted by Bloomberg News.

Nonetheless, staff members describe a happier workplace with clearer lines of authority and less fear of being chided by the often brusque Mr. Emanuel. Responsibility for communications and messaging has been consolidated. Cabinet members who were often overlooked in the past say they are more in the loop. With Mr. Daley taking the lead, there is more outreach to Republicans and business groups.

Well that's good to know.

Calmes concluded by spouting Obama's meaningless State of the Union rhetoric:

Administration officials said they saw the events beyond Washington as distractions from the optimistic "win the future" message that Mr. Obama introduced in his State of the Union address, in which he exhorted the country to increase spending for some programs even as it cuts others so that America can "out-innovate and out-educate" its global rivals.