White House Communications Director Ellen Moran is bidding farewell to her plum appointment before Barack Obama has officially been in office for 100 days. Moran is one of just a handful of women in Obama’s official inner circle and is the only woman in his communications shop.
After being a political animal all her life, why is the former executive director of EMILY’s list, who has been involved in many national and state level campaigns, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, stepping out of the real power circle to head over to the Commerce Department after three months?
Moran is the lone voice for women when it comes to shaping the message of the White House.
Her political and Democratic credentials cannot be questioned. So again I have to ask — Why?
We haven’t seen much of her, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at the helm of the daily briefings. Was she shut out from actually having a hand in crafting White House messages? If so, it reminds me of Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton’s Press Secretary who got short shrift as the only woman in that communications shop and was eventually replaced, in duties if not in title, by George Stephanopoulos.
Moran’s departure has been described as “sudden,” though some are pointing to the fact that she has two small children and speculating that perhaps that’s why she left. Even though there’s no question that any White House gig is going to be tough on any parent, if you’re a power player inside the beltway, you don’t toss aside a stint in the Obama White House as communications director after three months unless there’s something else going on.
Gibbs said Moran is leaving so she can spend more time with her husband and children. Isn’t that what they always say when someone is being forced out of a position for other reasons?
And I hate to break it to Gibbs and the other boys in that circle, but being Chief of Staff to the Commerce Secretary isn’t a cakewalk — Moran is not going to be leaving the office at 5 p.m. every day. As someone who’s worked in an appointed position in Washington, I can attest to the fact that your time is never your own and she’ll surely be putting in very, very long hours.
I know there are plenty who are going to say I’m a conspiracy theorist, but by allowing Moran to leave, what does that say about President’s Obama’s interest in hearing from a highly skilled female political operative or in hearing an opinion different from his inner sanctum? The perspective Moran brings to the table is different than other women who have Obama’s ear and it’s an invaluable one.
One unnamed person has said that Moran is leaving the White House because having her in the role as White House Communications Director “wasn’t a good fit.” A good fit for whom? If Moran wasn’t part of Obama’s original campaign inner circle, isn’t that a good thing? I thought this White House was going to be about fresh blood, new ideas and different perspectives.
And when someone finally got Moran to confirm she was leaving the White House, she said, “That’s all I’ve got for you.”
One reporter says that we should not assume that Moran’s departure means women aren’t welcome in an Obama White House. He may be right, but for me the jury is still out on that. All I can say is no matter what women he has around him, having an accomplished political player leave before 100 days without really commenting on it is not a sign of good things to come for women being able to have the ear of the President.
Maybe I’ve just got too much time on my hands to think about these things and maybe Moran really does think Commerce will allow her to see her kids more than a White House gig. I really do hope that’s the case. If it’s not, I’m going to be really disappointed in Barack Obama.