Washington Prowler

Change They Weren’t Waiting For

Obama seizes golf course. Also: Getting away from Robert Gibbs.

By 4.27.09

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TEED OFF
When President Barack Obama decided to visit the golf courses at Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday, it necessitated shifting several foursomes of military personnel who had reservations and tee times set up for yesterday. According to one prospective player, the reason for their shift in time and to another course was "a VIP visitor."

"We got our 18 holes in and we weren't terribly inconvenienced," says the golfer, "but I didn't get the impression that anyone from his group really cared one way or the other."

By all acounts, Obama, who occasionally played golf as an Illinois state legislator to cozy up to Democrat leaders, is a decent player who does not take the mulligans that former President Bill Clinton was well known to rely on.

ELLEN'S LIST
Inside the White House Communications shop, some staffers aren't surprised that commuication director Ellen Moran has chosen to leave for a senior post with Sec. Gary Locke in the Commerce Department. "Working with [press secretary Robert] Gibbs is not the easiest thing to do in this White House," says a current communications aide. "It can be a high-stress work environment."

Moran, who's had a long career in Washington politics with EMILY's List and working with senior Washington egos, found herself on the outside looking in on many decisions, say White House aides, who say she was pushing for Obama and the communications team to look for ways to keep the president from having to rely on teleprompters in his public appearances, but lost that battle. She also clashed privately with Gibbs.

Gibbs is trusted by Obama and is considered part of the White House "inner circle."

"Right now, there aren't many fights GIbbs is going to lose," says the aide. "Most of the White House press corps likes him and gets along with him, and that's what's important."

Moran, though, given her background with EMILY's list and Democrat electoral politics, may be moving on to a job at Commerce that is more in line with her interests. Later this year, as chief of staff to the secretary, she will be able to shape and track preparations for the U.S. census, which is run out of the Commerce Department.

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