Readers probably know that I think a pundit's ideas are only influential inasmuch as they're useful to people who actually control stuff. Thomas Friedman, for instance, is the brunt of heaps of opprobrium for being "an influential pundit" who supported the Iraq war even as his consistent writings on the need for a green revolution fail to make a dent in national policy.
People with high positions and a great deal of respect inside the White House, on the other hand, are much better placed to change things. At least in theory. In practice, of course, they say nothing at all while they're actually inside the White House and wait instead until they retire to the punditocracy before breaking with the line.