White House pushes back against Suskind book's depiction of Obama and his staff
PoliticoThe White House launched an aggressive response to a forthcoming book that chronicles internal dissent and second-guessing of President Barack Obama by his own staff and presents Obama as a conflicted, sometimes wavering leader. Administration officials assert that “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President” by Ron Suskind is infested with errors, both big (what they characterize as misquotations and distorted narratives) and small (several names, a birthdate, a publication date, an employer, an unemployment rate, etc.) and gives a distorted and inaccurate picture of the White House under Obama.
But the book’s highly publicized launch was more bad news for a White House reeling this week from declining poll numbers and a call from a prominent Democrat — former Clinton aide James Carville — for Obama to shake up his staff because “It’s not going to work with the same team, the same strategy, and the same excuses.”
And this wound was self-inflicted. Suskind received extensive cooperation from high levels of the administration — including a 50-minute Oval Office interview with the president — in reporting the book, which will be published Tuesday by Harper Collins but was obtained by POLITICO and several other news organizations.
Suskind also interviewed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and a host of current and former Obama aides. Suskind writes in a “Sources” section: “746 hours of interviews were conducted with more than 200 individuals.”
Some of those aides are quoted as being highly critical of either the president or the White House.
Former White House economic adviser Larry Summers, according to Suskind, told then-OMB director Peter Orszag that as far as economic policy, “There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.’”