A Chief of Staff for an Unchosen VP

By Al Giordano

The Internets are abuzz with one of the new staff hires announced by the Obama campaign today: Patti Solis Doyle, the former Clinton campaign manager forced out and scapegoated for the failings of Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson, Mandy Grunwald, Terry McAuliffe & company is now with the title of "Chief of Staff to the Vice Presidential Nominee."

Gee, if my archives * were only quickly available online and not treated like some gusano kidnappers treated young Elian Gonzales during his visit to Miami back in the year 2000, I could show you my original take on the scapegoating of Solis Doyle. (Shhhhhhh: That soft rustle you hear in the bushes is the fully-operational S.W.A.T. team going in after everything that is owed, and with interest. We'll wait until the children are sleeping...)

Frankly - and it may surprise some to hear me say this - I think Solis Doyle is one of the few former top staffers for Senator Clinton that I would hire. She was put in an impossible position by that campaign, given the title of "campaign manager" yet none of the authority that comes with it. She (and Harold Ickes) begged Senator Clinton to fire top strategist Mark Penn, to no avail.

But more interesting is that the Obama camp has appointed a chief of staff for a VP nominee that hasn't been chosen. It sends a message to all the aspiring vice presidents out there that, to get the nod, he or she has to check all hubris at the door: the top cat will pick your staff, too.

It's a particularly interesting message to Senator Clinton, who pushed Solis Doyle out when the going got tough, and allowed the hyenas left in place to soil Solis Doyle's reputation via the press.

If the Obama camp believes in rehabilitation, though, she's a good candidate for it, because she's learned the hard way what not to do in a campaign (and no more accepting post-election invitations to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with top campaign bundlers, okay, M'am?)

Some are debating whether this is a good or bad omen for those that want an Obama-Clinton ticket. I tend to agree with Sam Stein's take over on Huffington Post:

One thing the move does suggest, insiders believe, is that Hillary Clinton's chances of being tapped for the vice presidency are now slim to nil. "This alone means that Hillary won't be the V.P. choice," wrote one. According to two close Clinton confidantes, the Senator and Solis Doyle have not spoken since her firing months ago. And there is a sense that bad blood lingers between the two. Some officials in Clinton's orbit were disappointed, if not angered, by the fact that Solis Doyle had been in touch with the Obama campaign about possibly coming on board. Solis Doyle, meanwhile, is rumored to have felt particularly scapegoated by her firing.
Said one individual with knowledge of the Clinton campaign's political leanings: "It would be pretty awkward if Hillary Clinton were picked as vice president and Patti was there to be her chief of staff."

Not that Senator Clinton couldn't make up with her staffer-done-wrong, but to do so she'd have to dump Penn and company and keep them far from the organization. I like the way this is going.

More likely than the theory that Solis Doyle would be there to open the way for a Clinton vice presidential nomination is that running the VP office now grooms her to run another national campaign in 2016, for Obama's successor.

And, oh my, wouldn't Solis Doyle and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius make for an interesting team?

Update on that asterix: * We do have all the archives of the Ex-Field on file. Getting them up and online (and fixing all the cross-links so they link to each other) is one of the jobs that has to wait in line behind others right now. Thanks to everybody who emailed with offers to cache them on Google, but that won't be necessary.


Does this mean what I think

Does this mean what I think it does?

What's past the obvious?

Your prediction in mid-May

I felt so smart at dinner the other night when I quoted Al's mid-May post in which he asserted that HRC had already broached the idea of being BHO's VP and had been turned down...

Looking forward to the return of the archives.

And the other speculation this brings up...

Of course, now there will be two 24/7 weeks of speculation that this indicates the VP will be a woman.

Or Patti Murray for that matter

I agree with your take, al, and have long thought she got the very short end of the stick for the failures of many in the HRC campaign. I like that Obama has brought her aboard, and have to think it really is a further clear signal that HRC will NOT be the VP. Which anyone who is paying attention already knows, but the MSM is painfully slow to figure out.

Transition team?

This thing is starting to have the feeling of a very long transition for a President-elect, rather than gearing up for a tough general. McCain is looking weaker and weaker, in my view, while Obama is just playing a very steady, almost (but not quite) boring game. The possibility for a McCain collapse and the ensuing blow-out grows every day. Feels like the big election just happened. Could be wrong...

The Big Election That Just Happened

Tom W - Your words make me smile.

"The big election that just happened" really happened at the point, sometime in 2007, when it was clear that a presidential campaign could be triumphant because of small donors.

When somebody gives five dollars, he and she make an investment. And they work and work and work to make that investment pay.

What's happened here is a volunteer organization, getting its facts and rumor-squashing talking points, down to the level of every precinct and block in the country. When those somebodies add up to a million people, that's one amidst every 280 Americans (about one out of every 100 voters). As you know, there have been political organizations that have had one organizer per 100 voters. It just never formed so organically and horizontally before, without any of them needing to ask permission to do it.

The thing I have my eye on, because anyone with a brain can see what is happening: Watch out for the 11th hour maneuver on the GOP side to replace its nominee with someone like Romney.

But that will be the topic of a different post.

Always a Step Ahead...

"The thing I have my eye on...watch out for the 11th hour maneuver on the GOP side to replace its nominee with someone like Romney. But that will be the topic of a different post." -- Al G.

Wow! That's something I hadn't considered! Wow.

Operation Chaos Part deux

Your influence is clearly rubbing off on me, Al, because I have been telling everyone I know, "What makes you so sure McCain will be the Republican nominee?"

Of course, I'm primarily trying to stir the pot, but I see several scenarios that could lead to this outcome.

Great minds think alike

Yes, yes, yes. McCain's being undermined every step of the way. He's getting no defense from Republican groups when attacked, his own advisors are pushing him to flip-flop on every position some of us used to respect, they've entirely dropped the ball when it comes to anything a campaigning with three months to ramp up to full attack mode.

The only thing that makes sense is that the party is working behind the scenes--and probably behind McCain's back--to circle the wagons around a stealth nominee. Let's see...their convention is in July, right? That means that instead of the 18 months the press and blogosphere have had to scrutinize the declared candidates, the new candidate will have a free pass.

So: we're looking for someone who's got finances they can keep secret for a few months, no public record, rich, well-regarded with established Republican base voters--anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-social justice, anti-environmental, and pro-business.

Any takers? Let's say we can come up with a short list. And let's say that sometime in the next week or so one of the more popular outlets--DailyKos, HuffPost, etc.--picks up and posts about Al's recent adventures. And let's say that, embedded in that report is the idea of a stealth Republican candidate, with a few choice names attached.

I think the idea might creep up the food chain enough for it to creep into people's minds so at least some Americans will be prepared for the idea. And maybe us folks can start investigating so we can pull our own July Surprise with background on whomever pops out of the convention.

Thank goodness for Fieldhands!

Thanks for my email through Fieldhands which let me know about the move! Was surprised to find a different blog with no forward for you. Not nice. Glad to read about the refund. Glad to read the story and comments here about Doyle.

I'm thinking even a pres. who wants to call the shots would still allow his VP to have a say in who his/her chief of staff will be. Obama must know who the veep is. Just my guess.

Anyone but Penn

Al, I do remember that post (or posts) and think it likely that most of her top people will come over to work for Obama, with the obvious exception of Mark Penn. (If nothing else, I foresee that Clintonites he wants balking at the requirement that they work with him again.) I also remember you opining that SD was qualified for a lot of posts within a campaign but was saddled with an unenviable task (running until Mark Penn said boo) that may not have marched her skills. It'll be interesting to see how this develops....it seems kind of an odd post, but as you note is in keeping with the tight, on-message management we've seen from the Obama team.

You are the source for the Catholic Gov Sebelius/Schweitzer/etc theory, right? Because those two are two of my favorite choices.


Choosing a chief of staff for a VP candidate yet to be chosen: this really does telegraph the message that Obama is in charge. I wonder if a) the VP candidate is already chosen and is OK with Solis Doyle, or b) potential candidates are being told to check their egos at the door, thereby winnowing down the list.

Yeah, I think you hit the

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head with that, Al. Though I'm kind of interested, is there some connection between Solis-Doyle and Sebelius that you know of or something which you've heard that leads you to believe that Sebelius is a favorite for the VP nod, or is it a gut feeling on your part (which I definitely don't take lightly either ;) )

By the way, it's good to have you up and writing again, I've updated EI's links page to reflect the new (and improved) home of The Field.

I really want Feingold for

I really want Feingold for VP. I wrote Obama and told him if he picked Feingold I'd quit my job and work for the campaign. I will and gladly for Feingold.

your original take on Solis Doyle's scapegoating

I searched my RSS reader and found this from The Field on Feb 10:

Chiva Expiatoria = Scapegoat
Mark Penn screws up the strategy, Terry McAuliffe falls flat at the big-dollar fundraising, Bill loses South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana… but Patti Solis Doyle takes the hit?

Nice. If you had something longer, I can't find it.
And I'm a lurker, but RSS is just awesome.

Here's another

There was another post about Solis Doyle:


Mainly a citation of an El Diaro article.


Field Hands -

We're experiencing some technical difficulties ("icing on the new Iron Man suit," again, due to the sheer volume of traffic here - not bad for a two-day-old blog) getting all your great comments through the queue. Our crew is hard at work and we expect to see them up shortly.

- Al

No slap in the face

Susie Buell is quoted as saying that this hire is a "slap in the face" because it sends a clear message that Clinton will not be the nominee. I really think you can't win with some people and everything is not all about Clinton. By all accounts Solis-Doyle did a good job as Clinton's scheduler; Obama must know her from Chicago circles--why not hire people where their talents will be best used. It's not like he made her campaign manager....

I'm really tired at the continued manufactured outrage. All that drama....

Buell et al

TNR had a telling post about the sheer number of "X is a slap in the face to Hillary Clinton/Hillary Clinton supporters" one can find in a google search, dwarfing those of every other candidate. I truly believe this terminally offended subset (who will find all possible veep selections a slap in the face, even Sebelius because--of all things--she is a woman) is small and shrinking in number, but we have a few more days of their outrage playing to an ever-diminishing audience. Soon it will just be the occasional Lanny Davisism on Fox News as the rest, like Solis Doyle, move into the Obama campaign. (Always excepting Mark Penn.)

The ever laughable BTD at

The ever laughable BTD at TalkLeft literally titled his post on this hiring as "A Slap In The Face To Hillary Clinton."

Talk about predictable. And to top it off, he's made sure to reply to every sane post in his thread asking for any semblance of an explanation for his pronouncement with an "If you don't understand why I say this, you're a fucking moron."

How anyone can call that guy a friend and a colleague is truly beyond me.

can we please get the story

can we please get the story on what exactly happened on the field. i am not shocked and glad to see you moved back to narco news.

How do I log in?

Sorry Al, not to sound like a techie doofus, but how do we log in?

I think it sends a message

I think it sends a message to his potential VP: you're not Dick Cheney. You're not going to be independent, you're going to answer to Obama. Everything and everyone is. I like the idea of having the president be in-charge rather than just being "the decider."

As for what it portends: I would say it makes Hillary less likely. She's not one to admit mistakes, and it would look kind weird for her to have "hired" back the woman she fired from her staff basically as a scape-goat. Also, if I recall correctly, Sebelius is a member of the DLC, correct? But that's kind of a stretch, I suppose. We'll just have to wait and see...


Loosely. About as loosely as the rest of the Democratic Party. But she's also pretty damn progressive which is what matters, IMO.

I hope you are right

I've been wanting a speech about the end of the Imperial Presidency, and for him to say, flat out, that the VP is NOT ABOVE THE LAW.

glad to have found you

I'm glad to have found you, Al. Are you getting the money donated to send you to Denver? Do you have access to your old diaries or were they copyrighted through The Field? I want to support you here. Please let us know what you need.


We have all my old diaries (and all your comments) on file. It will take some time to be able to re-post them here. But we do have them. They have not been erased from history.

I have not gotten any of the money sent to send me to Denver, and most of the money sent to "Keep Al Writing."

I will issue a communique about that tomorrow.

now the fun begins

There are lots of fun ways to speculate about this

* The VP is going to be a woman and should have a female chief of staff
* The VP is going to be Richardson or someone else engaged in Hispanic outreach, which Solis Doyle will help them with
* The VP is going to be Clark or another Clintonite who will like having Solis Doyle around

Could it be that the VP is already known but not announced and approved the choice themselves? If so, we do not necessarily have a good idea who it is from this.

So intrigue is OK but drama isn't? ;-)

Very interesting. I agree on the message to the prospective VP. I tend to think that Barack already has it whittled down to a very short list and all on that list are seen by him as willing/able to accept this. I think it hints very strongly in Sebelius' direction. This not only sends the Clinton camp the message, but probably rules out the generals since top brass are accustomed to choosing their own aides-de-camp.

Alternate universe theory: this is a "message hire" targeted specifically at the Clintonistas. When the VP is chosen and if the VP wants to bring his/her own people aboard, Solis Doyle gets assigned to another high profile need identified by the campaign.

Someone's not happy in Clinton Land

"You don't hire Patti Solis Doyle for her operational expertise. You don't do that. This is someone who failed dramatically at her job. You only bring her on to fuck someone else."

-- A "former Clinton bundler," quoted by the New York Observer, noting that "Clinton loyalists were livid over the pick."


Buddha on a tin roof!

Geez Louise, will somebody tell these self-obsessed nimnulls that PSD has been a friend of Obama's brother since frickin' childhood? Criminy, Clinton dead-enders: It's Not About You. Get over yourselves.

Yes I would love to see

Yes I would love to see Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as VP and you hit the nail right on the head Patti Solis Doyle would say the right thing in response to that ridiculous demand that no other woman could be VP. When I first saw SD's picture coming up I said oh you are going to crash your server with this post AL. But I could be wrong, just taking the new (new) Iron Man suit for a spin!

Tight Ship

It's a tight ship they run, isn't it? Providing staffers for an important post such as this that would typically make their own hiring decisions.

They are like a well-oiled machine. Josh over at TPM was indicating the other day that Clinton didn't really mean to be doing Obama any favors by putting him through the ringer for the last 5 months, it really has paid dividends. These guys are like a team that gets better as the season goes on. Let's just hope there's no burn out/fade out factor.

I'm sure we all agree on no Penn. I would add no Ickes. I know he has been a hard working Dem forever and participated in the civil rights movement but I just can't get past someone who is so willing to manipulate the system, pander and lie to get their way.

Out of fairness to Ickes

He played some silly games over process, but he never played the race card, which puts him among a very small list among those top staffers.

Wasn't Ickes...

...the one with the 'affirmitive action' line at the RBC meeting where he had his little rant? I could've sworn it was him, but it was a pretty high-drama day and I may have been mistaken.

It seems an odd thing to

It seems an odd thing to give Solis Doyle a job working for a VP candidate that has yet to be chosen.

According to someone (Jed?)

According to someone (Jed?) in the past 2 cycles we first heard about the veep cos* about 1 to 2 weeks before we had a veep.

*I think chamber of secrets when I read this, which is actually quite apropos for Cheney.


Judging from the reaction of the Hillarites, this is being perceived (or spun) as a slap in the face to Hillary. If so - and this all assumes she wasn't consulted on it beforehand - I can see how this could wrankle as an unnecessary, gratuitous insult. Let's hope that's not it, and that we're missing important information.

What else is new

Some Hillary supporters take Obama winning the nomination as an unnecessary, gratuituous insult.

I think Obama needs to reach out to Hillary supporters, but not at the expense running the campaign he wants to run.

That was really well

That was really well said.

The Clinton supporters are raging, raging against the dying of the (spot) light. They can't stand that's it's not all about them anymore--in fact, they can't comprehend it.

PSD's brother is a friend of Obama's

I got this the wrong way around earlier -- but anyway, her brother is a longtime friend of Obama's, and she knows Plouffe and Axelrod as well.

Tell the Hillary diehards to get a frickin' grip. Not everything is about them. In this case, PSD happens to have longstanding ties to Obama and his key people. Plus, she helps bring the Hispanic vote. You know, the voters Hillary allegedly magically controlled?


good to have you back Al. at some point we want all the dirty details.
speaking of dirty details when does Patti's book come out?

So good to have your analysis around

I was really wondering about this one. But I've learned to trust your judgment, Al. Thanks for posting.

PS: Still no reply from Debra Kozikowski as to whether she's going to refund my donation so I can donate it here instead. For what it's worth, they're quickly deleting any post over there that says you've moved here, or that complains about the lack of disclosure. Big surprise!

Liaison between Obama and TBA-VP?

"Chief of Staff" may be her title, but I doubt it's her real position. It's hard for me to imagine a VP choice not being able to bring in some of his own people for top positions. I'm guessing that Solis Doyle's actual role will be as the link and liaison between Obama's team and the future VP team.

Finding you?

Did I miss the announcement of the change of venue?? Thank goodness for Wolcott or I'd still think everything I was reading at The Field RSS was, in fact, The Field. Instead, it's now The Back Forty.

What did I miss???

It also means....

Besides all the various messages this potentially sends....which is of course fun to arm-chair quarterback and all.

What I think is also (perhaps even _most_) important is that O intends that whoever he picks will hit the ground running hard. Whatever imagined or real failings Ms. Solis Doyle had in the HRC campaign, having an experienced 'office manager' build a staff and office now to be ready to go is priceless. It allows the VP nominee to step in and go campaign and never look back or have to worry about admin crap.

Chief of Staff

Very interesting! I will believe it was a good choice since we have a wise man at the helm. I found it a little disconcerting that the stated reasons for her failures in the Clinton campaign were due to lack of authority. Being in the corporate world, I would never agree to that type of position without the accompanying requisite authority so I'm not impressed that Patty Solis-Doyle allowed herself to be put in that position. But perhaps she was told she would have the authority and things went the other way...

I think the one message this

I think the one message this sends is that Obama isn't going to pick a Dick. He isn't going to pick someone who will try to control him or he will have to fight with over and over. He's going to pick a team player.

My guess?


Edwards or Gore would be true dream tickets but they are both doubtful.

Anti-immigration reform Webb is ruled out.

I think it will be Sebelius or Kaine.

Nice to see you back online Al!

I was confused today after going to your old site! After some moments of poking around I realized you had moved! Sorry that you have had to deal with this situation.

I'm very happy to see you are vivito y coleando!

I like the new comment thread display. It's much easier to reply to a particular post!

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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