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Carol Browner as White House Chief of Staff?

The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder says Carol Browner, President Obama’s climate and energy policy adviser, is a “plausible candidate” to become White House chief of staff.

He says:

Democrats connected with the White House say that Carol Browner, currently, the president’s senior adviser on energy and the environment, and the former EPA secretary under President Clinton, is a plausible candidate to be appointed White House chief of staff next year.

Ambinder offers a number of reasons why Obama might choose Browner. “She has more than enough experience dealing with Congress, with the rest of the government, and is a subject matter expert on the subject that will occupy a considerable amount of the President’s attention in the next two years,” he notes. In addition, he says she “supervised the response to the BP oil well spill, and the President is said to think that she did a terrific job with the limited sets of tools the government turned out to have.”

But he doesn’t address a couple of reasons why Obama would pass over Browner for the position. While she has been praised for her work on the oil spill response, she mischaracterized a key administration report on the amount of oil left in the Gulf after the spill.

A draft staff report on the administration’s oil spill response named Browner specifically in its criticism of the report, known as the “Oil Budget.”

Ms. Browner did not describe the Oil Budget as an operational tool designed to assist responders. Instead, some of her statements presented the budget as a scientific assessment of how much of the oil was “gone.” [...]

In addition, Ms. Browner and [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco] emphasized that the report was “peer-review[ed]” by federal and non-federal scientists. These references to peer review by two senior officials in a White House press briefing likely contributed to public perception of the budget?s findings as more exact and complete than the budget, as an operational tool, was designed to be.

At the same time, she is deeply unpopular with many Republicans, who have targeted her in their criticism of the administration’s so-called policy “czars,” key advisers who require no Senate confirmation.

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