The Wit And Wisdom Of Rahm Emanuel
I hate Rahm Emanuel. I hate him for being a shitty DCCC chair, for battling with Howard Dean over the 50-state strategy, for doing everything possible to undermine the winning strategy, then for taking credit when it worked. I hate him for running Bush-sympathizing 'Blue Dog Democrats' in red districts in 2006, and I hate him for being a smirking phoney smarm. He is rumored to hold an Israeli passport, to have volunteered for the IDF during Desert Storm, he is a Zionist and passes out Uzis to Jewish gangstas, "The Isros," in synagogues all over Chicago's north side. My mildest reaction to him as Obama's chief of staff was "Blerrrchh!"
But then I thought, "What would Saul Alinsky do? What would a community terrorist who has improbably seized power next do?" Get himself an enforcer. A Laurenti Beria, Luca Brazzi, knock-on-the-door-in-the-night Bad Cop. My hunch is it was in part a "keep your enemies closer" move. By naming Emanuel, Obama fulfilled Chicago political machine payback in perpetuity and also removed a major, ongoing congressional pain in the ass, one which is now condemned to schedule meetings and incessantly listen to people bitch and whine about how they absolutely must see the President. Music, sweet music.
Is it any wonder Rahmbo didn't immediately accept the post? He's done it before, and knows it often requires arriving 5AM and leaving 9PM. Plus, it messes with his ambition to be Speaker of the House, so he only committed 2 years to the job from hell. A placeholder will take his congressional seat, but things aren't always predictable on that watch. Especially now. The shit that's being aerosolized will not have settled back down upon the turnip field a short two years from now.
So Obama has a (preferably hypoallergenic) pit bull for CoS, and past holders of that slot like Dick Cheney and John Sununu were noted for startling levels of unapologetic rudeness. You don't need to trust the holder of the post to be nice, you need smarts, stamina, effectiveness, and quick answers to your reins. Obama trusts his combat team: Axelrod, Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, and his wife. Not the Merchant of Hyde Park, who will henceforth be Axelrod's responsibility. Emanuel scares the ever-living shit out of the Reich Wing, and he's as bipartisan as a broken nose. (See the cancelled SNL sketch above.) Politics is his blood sport. This is a good thing, if your President backs off from it.
Here's another Rahmbo angle: I suspect Obama will throw deep right away on the Palestine-Israel issue as a way to open up the options, because progress there, or the convincing illusion of it, makes everything else easier in the Mid-East. Emaneul knows how to work with the Clintons, is an intimate who maintained his neutrality, which pushes a few jigsaws together with Hillary as SecState. Baggage or no, the Clintons have mondo stature on the archway issue that's screwing the entire world up. They're the most recent people to make any headway on reconciliation and recognition, exact roboratives needed to free the Mid-East oxen from the desperate mire.
Obama is going after Israel, and it will be leaned on hard, with all the remaining US leverage available. Right where it should've been placed for the last decade and more. It may be too damned late, as Israel is busy sucking up to Russia with all possible speed, but having Rahm as CoS is like establishing an open channel to Tel Aviv. He will communicate what's doable, what's not, and he'll be believed.
For everything else domestic, he'll be diabolically effective, and will use his time in the White Cabin to gather power, not burn bridges. Aaron Sorkin's scheming character on the West Wing, Josh Lyman, is supposedly based on Emanuel's three-ring performances with the Clintons. Which, if true, means he gives a shit about liberal causes. And as for the rest, I'll take Machiavellian over Vaudevillian any day.
(Note: this post was originally written on November 8th, so the Clinton appointment and SNL sketch were added.)