White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is a veteran of the Clinton White House and the basis
for a popular West Wing television character. He's also a colorful figure known for hard-charging tactics. Emanuel has drawn frequent fire from the
left for his politics-first focus, which has led the White House to
compromise on many policies. But Emanuel has his defenders, too. Is he
good for the White House, or a liability?
- Only Rahm Can Save White House
On the front page of The Washington Post, Jason Horowitz explores the
love-hate. "Emanuel is a force of political reason within the White
House and could have helped the administration avoid its current bind
if the president had heeded his advice on some of the most sensitive
subjects of the year: health-care reform, jobs and trying alleged
terrorists in civilian courts." Many Democrats "believe Emanuel, the
town's leading purveyor of four-letter words, a former Israeli army
volunteer and a product of a famously argumentative family, was not
aggressive enough in trying to persuade a singularly self-assured
president and a coterie of true-believer advisers that 'change you can
believe in' is best pursued through accomplishments you can pass. "
- 'Obama Needs Rahm At The Top' The Washington Post's Dana Milbank loves him some Rahm.
"Obama's first year fell apart in large part because he didn't follow
his chief of staff's advice on crucial matters. Arguably, Emanuel is
the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter," he writes.
"Obama's greatest mistake was failing to listen to Emanuel on health
- When You Anger Michelle The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports
that even Michelle Obama is getting impatient with him. "The first
lady, according to an associate, was irate [at Milbank's column]. She
did not accept Emanuel's denials that he had been the story's source,"
he writes. "Emanuel famously has trouble keeping his opinions to
himself, and he has not censored himself when talking with friends
about his duties and his frustrations ... While it's sometimes
necessary to defend yourself in service of the president, it is
absolutely verboten to throw the boss under the bus."
- Is Rahm Giving Valuable Advice? Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias muses
that Rahm has publicly split with the White House largely on national
security matters, but Obama remains very popular on national security.
"So it's not at all clear to me what political problem having listened
to Rahm about KSM and whatnot is supposed to have solved," he writes.
"Both common sense and the polling breakdown indicate that
dissatisfaction with Obama is driven by the poor performance of the
economy since Obama's inauguration. And none of these Rahm
retrospectives have given any indication that he had some secret plan
to fix the economy that Obama rejected."
- Maybe He Should Quit The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart writes,
"it's unclear whether his job is really in any danger. But Milbank
posed a relevant query during a Feb. 22 online Q&A about his
column. 'A better question is why [Emanuel would] want to stay on the
job if his advice isn't being followed.' That's a question President
Obama ought to put to Emanuel. And what I wouldn't give to be a fly on
the wall to hear the answer."
- Politics-Before-Policy Is Bad For Both Liberal blogger Joe Sudbay slams
Emanuel's effort to cut the stimulus from the economist-recommended
$1.2 trillion. "If he were the hard-ass we'd all been led to believe he
was, Emanuel would have sent Obama to Maine to campaign for the
strongest bill possible, in order to get Snowe's and Collin's votes.
That's what a real tough Chief of Staff would have done, instead of
caving as quickly as possible on the medicine needed to save the
country from economic collapse. Emanuel made Obama look weak right off
the bat -- and the Republicans saw it immediately."
- Everything Wrong With Washington The Washington Post's Ezra Klein doesn't hold back.
"The defense of Rahm favored by some Washington Democrats is evidence
of everything that is wrong with Washington: It prizes politics rather
than policy, and seems interested in the problems Americans are facing
only insofar as those problems show up in the president's poll numbers.
In this telling, the measure of Obama's success is not how much good he
does for the country but how much good he does for congressional
reelection campaigns. No wonder people hate this city."
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