[Ed. – Or something. This almost comes off like an advertising placement that muffed its cue.]
Podesta’s a big proponent of the executive action strategy that the president announced in his State of the Union would define his 2014, and he has become the nexus of thinking through everything from the legal questions to involving Cabinet secretaries in their development and implementation. He’s become the point man on data and privacy as part of the NSA reforms and implementing the president’s environmental regulations.
He identified the need to give early West Wing attention to the California drought, which is already among the worst the state has seen and is expected to intensify in the coming months. He consolidated the response among several federal departments and agencies, including the Council on Environmental Quality, Agriculture, Interior, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Podesta has talked with Gov. Jerry Brown, who received a call last week from Obama, and members of the California congressional delegation.
These are things the White House had needed to be working on anyway but almost certainly wouldn’t have been dealing with as well, aides say. Podesta has been able to augment the strategic planning McDonough’s been doing, which for the chief of staff also includes focusing on the larger day-to-day direction of the White House, and a restructuring that includes a new political office and revamped legislative affairs operation.
Two weeks ago, McDonough took a suggestion from Podesta to move the senior staff meeting to 7:45 a.m., from 8 a.m., to allow more time to work through issues. Aides aren’t wild about the earlier start, but the longer meetings — 45 minutes, rather than 30 — give them a chance to have a more thoughtful discussion and take care of more business, a White House official said.