Bald spin-doctor is a tonic for Clinton: The President's new press chief has won over the media and is restoring the White House image
Thursday 24 June 1993
It may be a coincidence, but calamities have been replaced by at least the semblance of success. Congressional committees are suddenly approving Clinton proposals, from cutting the deficit and campaign finance reform to community service as a means for impecunious college students to pay tuition fees. The President's first Supreme Court nominee seems set for confirmation by acclaim.
To call Mr Gergen bald, old and fat is a mite unfair. Plump, middle-aged and thinning on top would be more accurate. But a carping Washington establishment is delighted. Its advice has been heeded. The man summoned to the colours is one of their own. No Arkansas outsider he; Mr Gergen is a 24-carat 'inside-the-Beltway' wise man, at 51 the embodiment of solid maturity and stalwart of a thousand television talkshows.
His previous employment in the Republican White House of Nixon, Ford and Reagan did raise eyebrows. But Mr Gergen dislikes labels. He is, he says, merely a whisker to the right of centre. But for a President who was being branded a closet liberal, his arrival was a deliberate symbol of the sprint back to the middle ground.
Not every omen was auspicious. Mr Gergen uncannily duplicates many of Mr Clinton's own faults. His workstyle is undisciplined and his schedule invariably runs late. But he knows how the system works. If his appointment is a success, its results will be a more professional White House and, just possibly, an ability to win over a handful of Republican moderates on Capitol Hill in crucial votes. But there has already been one visible and important dividend: improved relations with the press.
A first consequence of the shake-up was the removal of the hapless George Stephanopoulos as communications director. White House briefings are no longer siege warfare. A President who shunned press conferences last week held two in 48 hours and even had his tormentors in for a Sunday evening barbecue. To habitues, the fingerprints of Mr Gergen, spin-doctor supreme, were everywhere.
And in the West Wing, the staff revolution continues. Yesterday brought word of the demotion of the 33-year-old political director Rahm Emmanuel, whose main achievement, like Mr Stephanopoulos, had been to offend those he was supposed to win over. Whether David Gergen had anything to do with this change is unknown. But score another one for the fat, old, bald men.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...