Cockburn has never been a fan of White House chief of staff Ron Klain. The man simply inhabits a different universe: Klain thinks inflation is no big deal while Cockburn is currently subsisting off of the free peanuts at his local bar; Klain's favorite hobby is Twitter while Cockburn's is seeing how long he can drink gin on the White House Ellipse before the cops chase him off.

Yet even Cockburn has been surprised at the ferocity with which Washington has turned on Klain over the last week. A slew of articles, most of them from...

Cockburn has never been a fan of White House chief of staff Ron Klain. The man simply inhabits a different universe: Klain thinks inflation is no big deal while Cockburn is currently subsisting off of the free peanuts at his local bar; Klain’s favorite hobby is Twitter while Cockburn’s is seeing how long he can drink gin on the White House Ellipse before the cops chase him off.

Yet even Cockburn has been surprised at the ferocity with which Washington has turned on Klain over the last week. A slew of articles, most of them from mainstream media sources, have identified Klain as the reason the president’s policy agenda has stalled.

NBC News reports that “from inside the administration, some officials express concern that Klain ‘micromanages’ the West Wing and gives outsize credence to cable news and social media.” Politico whispers that “moderate Democrats in Congress have complained that Klain is overly deferential to their liberal colleagues, to the point where some members and Hill staff privately said he needed to be replaced.”

Cockburn notes from experience that DC can be a catty and snarling little town. He also observes that these kinds of press attacks are almost always coordinated by those who have a vested interest in seeing the target slimed. In this case, it appears that centrist Democrats are looking nervously towards November, and view the progressive Klain as an obstacle to the sort of consensus-oriented legislative achievement that could boost their chances in the midterms.

They have a point. How did Biden, a supposed moderate institutionalist, ended up embracing such a progressive agenda anyway? The reigning theory is that Klain had a heavy hand in deciding policy, that he’s been pushing the president to the left. Hill Republicans have even taken to calling him “Prime Minister,” though Cockburn notes that even the bumbler currently running the UK wasn’t so tone-deaf as to call inflation a “high-class problem.”

Still, there’s something about these prearranged whisper campaigns that makes Cockburn want to sympathize with the target — even if it’s a nineteenth-hole Josh Lyman like Ron Klain. A pair of DC insiders tell Cockburn that Klain is actually doing a decent job, that it’s not his fault Biden wasn’t able to win over Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Klain’s responsibility is to manage the machinery of the White House. The buck doesn’t stop with him, increasingly devalued though that buck might be.