Dan Pfeiffer is our guest this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: March 22, 2014 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
PoliOptics airs on POTUS on Saturdays at 8 am & 6 pm; Sundays at 4 am & 5 pm; Mondays at 2 am
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Dan Pfeiffer was a welcoming host this week in his West Wing office as we sat down for an hour for an expansive conversation about how President Obama and the White House staff are pulling out all the stops to enroll as many people as possible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act before the March 31 deadline for coverage this year.
Among the initiatives, of course, is the president’s daring — others would say risky — appearance on Seth Galifianakis’s “Between Two Ferns” show and devoting his yearly Final Four “Barack-etology” predictions to “The 16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered.” Michael Shear and Tanzina Vega of the New York Times had a front page story on Thursday outlining the broad marketing effort to reach out to young people as the deadline approaches.
But Dan and I spanned many more subjects during our chat, including the other events at the White House this week and how vastly more challenging it is these days to deliver and manage a message than it was for us in the Clinton White House and, indeed, how his successor will face an even more daunting challenge in the years ahead.
Toward the end of our conversation, Dan and I drilled down into a series of recent official White House photographs by Pete Souza and his team, the stories that those images tell, and the stories behind images as well. Those images are posted below in the order in which we talked about them.
I also asked Dan about the issues of access raised to Jay Carney last year by Doug Mills and other independent photographers. As Doug told me a few weeks ago on our conversation from Sochi, Russia, the dialogue is getting better and the access is loosening up, and Dan echoed that sentiment. Still, I would like to see a pooling structure in which a single independent photographer, on a rotating pooled basis, could have more of the fly-on-the-wall opportunities that Pete shares with the world on a regular basis. As Dan told me — and I agree — the behind-the-scenes story of the president at work is a good story for this White House, but it could be shared much more broadly if it was captured more regularly by an independent lens.
Here are the Pete Souza images that Dan and I discussed. Alas, if we only had a telestrator…
President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine at the conclusion of their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, March 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama looks at a sweater with Gap employee Susan Panariello while shopping for his family during a stop at a Gap store in New York, N.Y., March 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama high-fives a youngster at Coral Reef Senior High School, Fla., March 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security staff in the Oval Office, March 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
A young student uses a stethoscope to hear President Barack Obama’s heartbeat during a classroom visit at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C., March 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama enters the East Room of the White House with Christian Champagne at the start of the “My Brother’s Keeper,” event, Feb. 27, 2014. “My Brother’s Keeper” is an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama shakes hands with a worker as he and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tour the Metro Transit Light Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility in St. Paul, Minn., Feb. 26, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Aboard Marine One, President Barack Obama looks out over the central valley of California with Rep. Jim Costa and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer as they fly to an event in Firebaugh, Calif., Feb. 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France visit the Dome Room during a tour of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va., with Leslie Bowman, President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Feb. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)