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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

West Wing Wattage: 43 v. 44

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Take two of the key bits of commentary from this morning’s set of opinions –Wlliam McGurn’s “Are Americans Bigots?” from the Wall Street Journal and Pete Wehner’s “The Increasingly Self-Pitying Obama White House” from Commentary’s “Contentions” blog–and throw in Karl Rove’s guest turn on Rush’s program yesterday as well as Rove’s commentary on Fox last night.

You don’t have to agree with all or much or even any of this small slice of the commentariat pie to recognize that the Bush West Wing –McGurn, Wehner and Rove are all alums– was full of idea guys and communicators, serious political and policy operatives with cross-over abilities in the world of ideas and equipped with the tools to communicate those ideas.

This trio doesn’t just throw off the semi-annual “I’m still alive and lobbying” Washington Post op-ed, they are machines of commentary and analysis, most of it top-drawer, must-read material.

Which brings me to the cliche-bound writing staff of President Obama and his West Wing team of Emanuel, Jarrett, Gibbs etc.

Does anyone think that, two or more years after Emanuel, Jarrett et al exit Pennsylvania Avenue that they will be engaged in the war of ideas and not only engaged, but influential?

Does anyone think that any of the current Obama writers will have anything like the sway of McGurn or Wehner –outside of the next evolution of JournoList and the Washington Post blog page that is?

It is increasingly obvious except to the left-wing of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite that Team Obama didn’t bring a light of lightbulbs with them. Summers, of course, is a genuine intellect, but he’s apparently spent much of his time organizing plots and conducting purges. Orszag had a reputation for candle-power, but the mess he ran away from has shattered that myth. Anybody else running point for the Obama idea machine these days?

Chicago operators all, and David Axelrod’s amusing appearances on weekend shows tell us he’s all they have left, and that isn’t much.

When the shellacking comes in November, the president is going to have to recalibrate and restock. He should start with some genuinely smart, curious people, and not merely campaign veterans who can read cross-tabs or college kids with a shared love of Alinksy.

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