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Time for panic at the White House? Some say yes

Washington Bureau

Is it time to panic at the White House? The whispers have begun to grow louder both inside and outside the Beltway that the answer is yes, and that President Obama’s West Wing is in need of a good old-fashioned shakeup.

The loudest voice to date is that of James Carville, the boisterous Democratic strategist who helped put Bill Clinton into the White House in 1992.

Writing at CNN.com, Carville said the results of special elections this week in New York and Nevada call for an urgent response from the president to change course.

“We are far past sending out talking points. Do not attempt to dumb it down. We cannot stand any more explanations,” Carville wrote Thursday.

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He outlined a three-point strategy that starts with firing “a lot of people.”

“For God’s sake, why are we still looking at the same political and economic advisors that got us into this mess? It’s not working,” he said.

Reports Friday, though, indicate that some are pointing the finger at one of the newest figures in Obama’s inner circle: Chief of Staff Bill Daley. Politico says unnamed “critics inside and outside the West Wing are questioning whether he is the tough, competent manager needed to shake up the operation and propel Obama into the 2012 election year.”

Thursday night, the Huffington Post said “Democrats on the Hill and even in the White House are struggling with a mysterious emotion: They miss Rahm Emanuel.”

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This kind of hand-wringing is to be expected given where the president’s poll numbers are. His evening speech to a joint session of Congress was viewed by more than 30 million Americans, but failed to jolt his approval rating. Gallup’s tracking poll showed no “bump” from the speech, and that his job rating is down to 39% as of Thursday.

And the jobs plan he announced, while well received during his campaign-style events in swing states, has yet to gain steam even with some Democrats in Congress.

His advocacy of “green jobs” also is under fire, with questions about whether his top aides pressured budget officials to fast-track a loan to now-defunct solar company Solyndra.

Obama has routinely resisted calls such as Carville’s to shake things up based on what he sees as short-term setbacks. At fundraising events Thursday night, he said he was confident he would weather the storms.

“If you need some inspiration, watch the Republican presidential debates,” he joked at one event.

“This is one of those times where all of you are going to have to be my ambassadors over the next several months, to make sure that people who I think continue to believe in change and continue to believe in hope are mobilized effectively in 2012,” he said at another. “If you’re there with me, then I’m confident that we’ll have an inauguration.”


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