Desiree Rogers leaves the Obama White House: Who's next?
Now that White House social secretary Desiree Rogers is leaving, critics say it's time for Obama to shake up the White House even more – starting with the inner core from Chicago.
Desiree Rogers wasn't at the upper echelons of Barack Obama's policy team. But as a person well-connected to the president, her departure Friday as White House social secretary adds fuel to a larger question: Is the White House due for a personnel shakeup?Skip to next paragraph
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The issue is already a hot topic in Washington, with many pundits saying a staff overhaul is President Obama's best hope to get himself back on track politically.
Obama's outward focus remains on front-burner agenda items such as healthcare policy and job creation.
But since December, the percentage of the public saying they "disapprove" of the job he's doing has hovered around 50 percent for the first time during his presidency, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corp. polling. Just after his inauguration, public disapproval was only 23 percent.
Obama could be 'reduced to a speechmaker'
"The negative, even dismissive, talk about the Obama White House has reached a critical point," Leslie Gelb, political writer and former New York Times columnist, opined earlier this month. "The president must change key personnel now. Unless he speedily sets up a new team, he will be reduced to a speechmaker."
That dire assessment of the state of Obama's presidency is not held universally. (On most issues, the public gives Obama higher scores than Republicans.) But as Gelb detailed, negative chatter has gotten a lot louder.
With Obama coming in for criticism on everything from his Afghanistan policy to healthcare and the economy – and Obama himself not up for reelection until 2012 – an obvious question is: If there's a shakeup, who should go?
The Chicago crowd
For some political analysts, the answer may connect at least circumstantially to Rogers. Obama's inner circle includes a Chicago-bred core (that's where Obama also got to know Rogers) that Gelb and others say should be largely replaced by people more suited for national political or managerial roles.
Rogers resigned after a tumultuous year in an important role coordinating White House social functions.
She came into the spotlight for changing the tone – a shift toward the White House with the Obamas in residence being more of "the people's house," with guest lists that moved more often beyond the Washington elite. One party, the New York Times noted, ended in a spontaneous conga line.
But Rogers garnered the most media coverage for the "gate crashers" episode, in which fame-seekers Tareq and Michaele Salahi got into a state dinner uninvited. (Monitor report on party crashers here.)