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Political Insiders Poll

Click here to see how prominent political bloggers responded to these questions.

Q: Overall, what grade would you give the White House staff?

Democrats (97 votes)


Average grade = B+

A. "Very disciplined and only a handful of missteps so far. No public infighting as with the Clinton White House."

A. "It's as if the media has no source of food other than the White House's palm."


A. "They are seriously disciplined, understand Capitol Hill, and are currently winning. But the day of reckoning is coming. And the question is, 'Are they prepared?' "

A. "Highly disciplined, just like the campaign."

A. "The fact that [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel has not been more of a public issue is a good sign that his elbows may be sharp but he has confined his contentious ways to inside the corridors of the White House and the Capitol."

A. "They get some credit for [Obama's] 65 percent approval rating."


A. "They have controlled the debate over the stimulus, over the face of the Republican Party, over the U.S. role in the world."

B+. "Dealing with the toughest challenges inherited by any administration in two generations."

B. "They are aggressive and smart, but seem to forget what Obama said in the campaign about health insurance taxes and a mandate."

B. "Rahm looked especially 'Rahmbo' on the NBC special. Get a leash."

B. "They have done well, but if the economy doesn't turn around by this fall, it won't matter. People will begin to transfer their uneasiness."

B. "They have been very disciplined in staying out of the legislative weeds on the big issues. Not as good on navigating personnel issues."

B. "Few public skirmishes, few big errors to point to. Seem truly behind the scenes and seem to get along. Not perfect on anticipation."

B. "They're brilliant and have big ideas, but also big egos."

C. "The palace guard is good at protecting the president, good strategically, not so good yet at making friends or running the government."

Q: Overall, what grade would you give the White House staff?

Republicans (91 votes)

Average grade = B-

A. "Watching Jon Huntsman's appointment as ambassador to China and John McHugh's appointment as Army secretary, Republicans can only look on in admiration and say: 'Damn, these guys really know how to play this game.' "

A. "They seem well organized and surprisingly prepared for the job."

A. "No leaks and total fidelity. Kim Jong Il would be proud."

A. "Always on message. Very disciplined. But their long-term problem is that the public will inevitably turn against their policies of fiscal irresponsibility and weak national security."

B. "So far they have had a nice honeymoon."

B. "They are handling a lot of issues simultaneously. One major flaw is the tendency to speak or act too quickly and then having to backtrack."

B. "They'd get an A if they stopped blaming Bush for everything under the sun."

B. "Off to a good start, but too much patting themselves on the back. Where are the results, not just 'it would have been worse if we did nothing'? "

B. "They are doing a solid job, but it doesn't hurt to have a popular president and a somewhat discredited set of critics."

B. "I'd give them an A, but the national media does most of the heavy lifting for them, making their job the easy one."

B. "They've made Obama look effective and engaged even if I disagree with the policies. And that TelePrompTer guy does great work."

C. "Vetting of appointees was frequently botched, and Obama is badly overexposed. Too many small mistakes."

D. "Nominees with tax problems [and] an overexposed president with an overly ambitious agenda leave many wondering if anyone can say no in the White House to the president."

"An A for for serving, protecting, and defending their president; a C for never thinking beyond that."

Q: What grade would you give President Obama's economic and national security teams?

Democrats (97 votes)

Average grades


Economic team           B-
National security team  B+


Economic team

A. "Things have calmed down, folks are depressed and scared, maybe a little hopeful, which is far removed from panic mode."

B. "They have done what needed to get done to stop the hemorrhaging and get this economic ship back on track, but they haven't been as effective communicating."

B. "Started slow, picked up steam, but now beginning to feel the impatience of the public and the media to see results in jobs and consumer confidence."

B. "Can't give them an A with unemployment getting ready to pass 10 percent."

C. "They still have too many of the old hands that are tied to Wall Street and do not get my street. They treat the banks one way and manufacturing another."

C. "When Bush was president, every solution to every problem was a tax cut. With Obama, it's a bailout. It has to stop."

D. "Saved jobs are like planes that don't crash: No one cares. They had better find a better metric to judge their progress by."

National security team

A. "[Secretary of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton has become a real star for the administration. She has surprised everyone in how she has become a real team player and how Obama projects real dependence on her."

A. "They have been willing to put aside campaign rhetoric and negative attacks from the liberal left to do what is in the best interest of our country."

A. "Handling all the incoming effectively."

B. "Best one can say is that they have not made any screwups yet, which is actually a good grade for the first 100-plus days."

B. "Great start, but no execution yet on substance."

C. "He's giving good speeches overseas, but I don't think the way North Korea has been handled publicly has gone very well."

C. "When your most vocal antagonism is toward your most important ally, Israel, you're doing something wrong."

Q: What grade would you give President Obama's economic and national security teams?

Republicans (91 votes)

Average grades


Economic team           D+
National security team  C


Economic team

C. "It's easy to spend money to fix a problem. Paying for it later will be the big challenge."

C. "Haven't yet recovered from [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner's poor start."

C. "The economy seems to have stabilized, though job losses and other indicators suggest they'll have a tough time arguing that they've done a good job in 2010. 'We inherited it' won't work as well as time passes."

C. "Stimulus isn't stimulating. And no good answers on massive debt."

D. "They excel in that they do his bidding effectively, but the grade reflects the unsoundness of the policies."

D. "If Obama ends up as a one-term president, it will be because these guys pushed economic policies that would make even Jimmy Carter roll his eyes."

F. "Chinese students laughing when Geithner tells them U.S.A. is a good place to invest money says it all."

National security team

A. "To get the president to turn away from political promises to his base in the interests of true security is fairly amazing."

A. "Seems to be a very moderate and pragmatic approach. If only the economic policy were the same."

B. "With the exception of the Gitmo decision, they've kept him from colossal mistakes."

B. "[Defense Secretary] Bob Gates continues to excel. Secretary Clinton seems to be holding her own and is using many of her long-standing personal relationships with world leaders to her advantage."

C. "Repacking a lot of the former administration's ideas, just selling them better. But North Korea? Do we have a plan? Time is ticking."

D. "Reversal on military tribunals; Guantanamo rebuke in Senate; CIA mix-up with [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi; North Korea and Iran testing nukes. Obama's 'one world' campaign rhetoric could make him seem naive once we have a real crisis."

F. "The fact that they evidently have made a decision to treat war as an episode of Law & Order makes me wish that Fred Thompson was president."

National Journal Insiders

Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bjornson, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Jerry Crawford, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Don Fowler, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery, Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Bob Maloney Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Larry Rasky, Bruce Reed, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Kevin Shuvalov, Sean Sinclair Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Darry Sragow, Katrina Swett, Sarah Swisher, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Charlie Crist, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, George LeMieux, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Robin Smith, Javier Soto, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.

This article appears in the June 20, 2009 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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