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Ron Klain Exits the White House Stage Left

Ron Klain Exits the White House Stage Left

Chief of staff

Ron Klain

is leaving the White House after President

Joe Biden’s

Feb. 7 State of the Union address. Much of the coverage frames his as a victorious exit, saying Mr. Klain departs with Mr. Biden having regained momentum after Democrats escaped a midterm shellacking.

Other recent chiefs have served longer than Mr. Klain’s 25 months.

Denis McDonough

served four years for

Barack Obama,

and

Andrew Card

worked five years and three months for

George W. Bush.

Still, Mr. Klain has been a consequential chief in important respects.

He’s run a tight ship. The West Wing hasn’t leaked. There’s little evidence of staff infighting. He focused Team Biden’s agenda, kept the mostly compliant press corps off its back, and convinced the Democratic Party’s troublesome congressional left wing to remain submissive.

Mr. Klain steered Mr. Biden away from tough media questions and, when necessary, dumped bad news to draw attention from more dangerous controversies. Friday’s release of December’s record border apprehension numbers distracted from the discovery of yet more classified documents in unsecure locations used by Mr. Biden.

During Mr. Klain’s tenure, the Biden presidency’s legislative achievements have been impressive, given a closely divided Congress—though the idea that they put Mr. Biden up there with

Franklin D. Roosevelt

or

Lyndon B. Johnson

is laughable. LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Clean Air Act of 1963, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants and more. Whether you like them or not, these are far more sweeping than Mr. Biden’s American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act. Despite costing trillions, they’re bills about which voters know little.

Mr. Klain took on multiple roles in addition to the normal chief’s duties. He was the unofficial communications head, working the press harder than any chief of staff since

Ronald Reagan’s

James Baker.

Mr. Klain was Mr. Biden’s political director, marshaling resources to help beleaguered Democratic officeholders. He was the social-media maven, tweeting endlessly. He…

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