Movement Left has Stroke: Rahm Emanuel Accepts Obama’s Chief of Staff Offer

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rahm twn.jpg
Many in the movement left are having a heart attack that the first major move of President-elect Barack Obama is the appointment of Congressman Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff. Emanuel has accepted.
I preferred Senator Tom Daschle for the job. Daschle has vision and implementation skills that many will never be able acquire — but Daschle didn’t want the position in the end.
The Rahm Emanuel I know is tenaciously focused on results and will do nearly any thing to win — and if winning for the Obama administration and the American public is what we are putting forward here, then his appointment can be a good thing.
My greatest fear about Emanuel is that he might perpetuate a “false choice” orientation towards Israel in Middle East affairs that he’s going to have to compensate for and get under control. There are no rational alternatives in the Middle East than actually delivering on a Palestinian state and finally putting the Middle East peace business out of business.
Emanuel needs to prove his judiciousness by not preempting serious progress in Israel/Palestine affairs and not encouraging Barack Obama to make the mistake of trying to define his presidency by exploiting some national security conflict. There are downsides to the JFK comparison.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

74 comments on “Movement Left has Stroke: Rahm Emanuel Accepts Obama’s Chief of Staff Offer

  1. Toto says:

    “Nothing at all – he’s a gem, a find, the perfect being in the perfect
    place.” Of course, I didn’t say that; nor did I imply that. I merely
    asked you to supply some reason to believe that RE is a mole. You
    didn’t and apparently you can’t.
    Take care.

    Reply

  2. arthurdecco says:

    You’re not honest enough for me to want to continue this exercise, Toto. You’re too busy deliberately looking in the opposite direction to see much of anything going on. Nothing it seems, bothers you about Emanuel’s ascension to the role of gatekeeper to the President of the United States. Nothing at all – he’s a gem, a find, the perfect being in the perfect place.
    That kind of an opinion would be okay for a Ritalin user/abuser – it’s certainly not okay for someone seeking truth or looking for a respect for fairness, justice and liberty in those who represent you or guide those that do.
    I’m done contributing to this frivolous exchange of what is, in your case, the equivalent of intellectual belly button lint.
    See ya.

    Reply

  3. Toto says:

    Just messin’ around the Internet, I came across this post from
    the Daily Howler, wherein Bob Somersby seems to corrobate my
    sense that Roberts likes to play fast and loose with the facts.
    “Yesterday, we couldn’t help chuckling and rolling our eyes over
    Mona Charen’s strange report on the China missile story. In her
    report, Charen blamed events that occurred in 1993 on financial
    dealings by Johnny Chung that didn’t happen until 1996.
    It’s the sort of thing this celebrity press corps will do to make
    stories turn out the way that they want. And guess what? Three
    days before Charen’s creative report–on the very same
    Washington Times op-ed page–Paul Craig Roberts had also
    reversed the direction of time, so he could heap blame on
    President Clinton.
    Here’s how Roberts got started:…”
    http://www.dailyhowler.com/h052798_1.shtml
    Of course, this doesn’t impeach Roberts entirely. I actually went
    ahead and read some of his pieces and found them to be
    thought provoking. But he’s clearly tendentious in his approach
    to “arguing” a point…

    Reply

  4. Toto says:

    AD: Your quote from Roberts is precisely the sort of soi-disant
    reporting, or non-reporting I’m talking about. It’s actually an
    opinion piece, or a pamphlet. He has a right to his opinion, but
    it’s not corroborating evidence, for example, that he was a mole.
    A few points:
    He asks a “question” in the opening paragraph, but it isn’t an
    actual question, because he “answers” it in his next two
    sentences. That is, he isn’t inquiring, he’s telling–but based on
    what?
    In the second paragraph, he uses Emmanuel’s middle name.
    Frankly, this borders on sleaze and is precisely the same tactic
    that McCain and Anne Coulter used against Barack Hussein
    Obama. Not much more has to be said about that and, frankly,
    when I saw that I was disinclined to read further. Suffice it to
    say that neither man uses his middle name and neither man
    hides his middle name.
    Moving on, he says that Emmanuel rose in the Democratic party
    because of his fundraising “connections” to AIPAC–but he
    doesn’t say what those “connections” are or how that helped him
    rise in the Democratic party. Given that the current meme
    seems to be that the Democratic Party is a wholly owned
    subsidiary of AIPAC, one would think that one would need much
    more than AIPAC “connections” to rise within the Democratic
    Party.
    We’re told he “comes from a terrorist family.” Now we really are
    entering into the land of sleaze. Emmanuel’s father’s
    membership in the long defunct Irgun is well-known. But his
    mother came from an American family of union organizers–a
    somewhat different orientation in the world, I would say. But
    Roberts’ point is to suggest that Emmanuel himself is somehow
    a terrorist, you know, the acorn never falling far from the tree.
    But notice, we still haven’t learned anything new, or anything at
    all about Emmanuel, and Roberts is burning through his lede
    pretty quickly.
    Moving on, Roberts says he served in the IDF. Well, a little fact
    checking suggests he repaired trucks–but the reader is allowed
    to imagine him toting a gun and bludgeoning pregnant
    Palestinian women, or leading atrocities in Jenin…or whatever
    one wishes. Then we get into his board membership on Freddie
    Mac, etc., which I guess is supposed to prove that this guy is
    corrupt to the core.
    But still no reason to think that Emmanuel was a mole and no
    reason to think that Roberts is going to give us anything even
    close to objective reporting.
    Now, if I were to do a similar piece on Roberts himself, I would
    note that Roberts was a happy foot soldier in Reagan’s
    revolution (like McCain, I guess) and a co-author of the
    discredited theory of Reaganomics in which he continues to
    believe. Personally, I regard RR as the beginning of the end for
    America, so why should I believe anything Roberts has to say.
    From Wiki: “Paul Craig Roberts (born April 3, 1939, in Atlanta,
    Georgia) is an economist and a nationally syndicated columnist
    for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of
    the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the
    “Father of Reaganomics”.
    Now this clearly doesn’t say all that should be said about
    Roberts, but that’s about all that he’s doing here to Emmanuel.

    Reply

  5. arthurdecco says:

    Toto, FYI: ‘Conned Again’ By Paul Craig Roberts
    If the change President-elect Obama has promised includes a halt to America’s wars of aggression and an end to the rip-off of taxpayers by powerful financial interests, what explains Obama’s choice of foreign and economic policy advisors? Indeed, Obama’s selection of Rahm Israel Emanuel as White House chief of staff is a signal that change ended with Obama’s election. The only thing different about the new administration will be the faces.
    Rahm Israel Emanuel is a supporter of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Emanuel rose to prominence in the Democratic Party as a result of his fundraising connections to AIPAC. A strong supporter of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, he comes from a terrorist family. His father was a member of Irgun, a Jewish terrorist organization that used violence to drive the British and Palestinians out of Palestine in order to create the Jewish state. During the 1991 Gulf War, Rahm Israel Emanuel volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. He was a member of the Freddie Mac board of directors and received $231,655 in directors fees in 2001. According to Wikipedia, “during the time Emanuel spent on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities.”
    In “Hail to the Chief of Staff,” Alexander Cockburn describes Emanuel as “a super-Likudnik hawk,” who as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 “made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates.”
    My despondent friends in the Israeli peace movement ask, “What is this man doing in Obama’s administration?”
    story continues at:
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21177.htm

    Reply

  6. arthurdecco says:

    Did someone just fart?

    Reply

  7. KaziA says:

    Interesting comments, apparently Emanuel is simultaneously a Zionist and a Palestinian sympathizer. You bigots need to get your stories straight.
    And by the way, Menachem Begin, former head of the Irgun and Prime Minister of Israel, won the Noble Peace Prize when he actually found an Arab willing to trade peace for land.

    Reply

  8. Toto says:

    “I’d be interested to know how you so casually dismissed the
    accusation that Rahm Emanuel was the Israeli Mole at the center
    of a top-level White House investigation when Bill Clinton was
    president. Don’t those whisperings alarm you even a teensy-
    wheensy bit? They make my palms sweat. (Are you remotely
    aware of how many of the lunatics on the Israeli Inside want to
    nuke Iran this minute?!?)”
    They would alarm me (greatly) if I had real reason to believe they
    were true. But I’m not scared of things I have no reason to
    believe are true. This strikes me as commonsensical. People
    write all kinds of things–and the hotter the situation the more
    kinds of things they write. As a citizen, I think it’s fine and right
    to keep an eye on things as far as I can. But I don’t see any
    reason to shout from the rooftops every time someone makes an
    assertion like this. If Emmanuel was/is a mole, it’s very bad. But
    what if he’s not? No damage done? Move on to the next theory?
    Unless there is CREDIBLE evidence, then where does that leave
    you? Hiding on the bed? Putting folks in jail? You speak of
    sides…I just don’t see it. I think this country has suffered too
    much from people who want to draw up sides and state “you’re
    either for us or against us.” Put some real, substantiated claims
    on the board, and I’ll give what you say more weight.
    Another thing…Clemons strikes me as someone who has an
    insider’s line on a lot of things. He also strikes me as an
    extremely patriotic and upright person. If all of what you assert
    is so clear, why has Clemons not raised the alarm? Why is he not
    accusing Rahm of being a mole? Why is he not talking about
    how our intelligence systems are compromised by the Israelis?
    Is he, too, part of the plot? Is he, too, afraid of losing his “job”?
    Do you really think that Clemons is more concerned about his
    “access” than about the ultimate security of his country? AFAIK,
    no one controls what he writes, whom he talks to, what he does,
    or where he travels. Is he afraid for his life? Is someone
    blackmailing him? He certainly doesn’t strike me as “in the bag”
    for Israel given his many posts on this issue.
    This is a foreign policy blog run by a foreign policy expert.
    Don’t you think that if he had credible knowledge that our
    security systems were simply draining information into Israel’s
    hard-drives that HE would be raising the alarm? What’s your
    theory on that?
    Moreover, where’s Sy Hersh or Glenn Greenwald on these issues?
    Are they also hiding under the bed?
    Since you asked, I shared with you my theory about Rahm.
    Some of the breezy assertions these “reporters” make strike as
    just a bit too breezy with just too little back up.

    Reply

  9. arthurdecco says:

    “Your assertion that Israel has some “critical control over future assignments in this WH” is completely unproven. You appear to be grinding an axe rather than offering proof.” Toto
    Did you read any of the articles I submitted upthread? …Axe to grind? Yawn… I’m guessing the fact that Israeli interests have access to the most secure communications systems used by your government is no reason for concern for you.
    As to: “offering proof” – I can’t offer you proof. There is no proof. There will never be any proof. These perpetrators aren’t stupid – they’re selfish.
    All I’ve got in lieu of “proof” is informed conjecture, Toto. Got any of your own?
    I’d be interested to know how you so casually dismissed the accusation that Rahm Emanuel was the Israeli Mole at the center of a top-level White House investigation when Bill Clinton was president. Don’t those whisperings alarm you even a teensy-wheensy bit? They make my palms sweat. (Are you remotely aware of how many of the lunatics on the Israeli Inside want to nuke Iran this minute?!?)
    Do you honestly want a suspected representative of these dangerous and violent people holding the keys to the White House and controlling access to the President of the most militarily aggressive country in the world?
    Whose side are you on? And trust me – there ARE sides here – diametrically opposed sides.

    Reply

  10. Toto says:

    “Well I can’t tell you what it ‘means’ though I can tell you what it
    ‘suggests’: It suggests, (along with all the other interrelated
    facts that we’re discovering too late about this man), that those
    who support Punk Israel have some kind of critical control over
    assignments in this future White House. Based on the behavior
    of those who traditionally control Israel, that concerns me.
    Aren’t you concerned at all?”
    Interesting material. I think it’s much more likely that Obama
    appointed Rahm because a) Daschle declined, b) he knows Rahm
    because they’re both part of the Illinois contingent, c) he has a
    well-earned reputation for getting things down, and d) could,
    perhaps, help with a resolution to the IP conflict. As to the mole
    stuff, I don’t believe everything I read–do you? Where’s the
    proof? Everything that’s been “revealed” about Rahm here is
    truly on the surface and been known for ages. If, in fact, what
    Ketcham writes is true, I grant you, that’s bad news. However,
    Ketcham appears to believe that the Israelis knew 9/11 was
    coming–actually, so did Bush, it was in the NIE–and failed to
    warn the US, etc. These conspiracy claims against Israel and
    9/11 have not been proven to my satisfaction, so I’m not so sure
    how trustworthy his reporting his overall.
    Your assertion that Israel has some “critical control over future
    assignments in this WH” is completely unproven. You appear to
    be grinding an axe rather than offering proof.

    Reply

  11. larry says:

    I can assure you that emmanual was not appointed
    by Obama, but by the AIPAC lobbyist so they can
    have a good grisp of Obama.

    Reply

  12. arthurdecco says:

    Toto: I notice that you didn’t have much to say about this quote:
    “THE (White House) MOLE was RAHM EMANUEL. He resigned with little media fanfare, the day Bebe Netanyahu showed up in a Washington Press conference with a shit eating grin.. smoking a big cigar.”
    Was that “too harsh” for you to deal with? What do you think it means?
    Toto: “”Former citizen of Israel”…now that is harsh. What does it even mean?”
    Well I can’t tell you what it ‘means’ though I can tell you what it ‘suggests’: It suggests, (along with all the other interrelated facts that we’re discovering too late about this man), that those who support Punk Israel have some kind of critical control over assignments in this future White House. Based on the behavior of those who traditionally control Israel, that concerns me. Aren’t you concerned at all?
    “But so typical of the left–let’s kill our guy while he’s still in the womb” said Toto
    In the media-manipulated madness surrounding Obama’s investiture as the next emperor of Amerika, it appears to have been overlooked that he is no more “the left’s guy” than anyone else who has ever been elected President of the United States, in spite of the fact that the “left” makes up a large majority of America’s citizens.
    I’d say now’s the time to shout from the rooftops all over America if you ever hope to rescue your country from a takeover by hostile, self-interested agents of a foreign country. Later will be too late. (If it isn’t already)
    Kathleen Galt: have you read the following article?
    An Israeli Trojan Horse
    How Israeli Backdoor Technology Penetrated the U.S. Government’s Telecom System and Compromised National Security
    By CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM
    Since the late 1990s, federal agents have reported systemic communications security breaches at the Department of Justice, FBI, DEA, the State Department, and the White House. Several of the alleged breaches, these agents say, can be traced to two hi-tech communications companies, Verint Inc. (formerly Comverse Infosys), and Amdocs Ltd., that respectively provide major wiretap and phone billing/record-keeping software contracts for the U.S. government. Together, Verint and Amdocs form part of the backbone of the government’s domestic intelligence surveillance technology. Both companies are based in Israel – having arisen to prominence from that country’s cornering of the information technology market – and are heavily funded by the Israeli government, with connections to the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence (both companies have a long history of board memberships dominated by current and former Israeli military and intelligence officers). Verint is considered the world leader in “electronic interception” and hence an ideal private sector candidate for wiretap outsourcing. Amdocs is the world’s largest billing service for telecommunications, with some $2.8 billion in revenues in 2007, offices worldwide, and clients that include the top 25 phone companies in the United States that together handle 90 percent of all call traffic among U.S. residents. The companies’ operations, sources suggest, have been infiltrated by freelance spies exploiting encrypted trapdoors in Verint/Amdocs technology and gathering data on Americans for transfer to Israeli intelligence and other willing customers (particularly organized crime). “The fact of the vulnerability of our telecom backbone is indisputable,” says a high level U.S. intelligence officer who has monitored the fears among federal agents. “How it came to pass, why nothing has been done, who has done what – these are the incendiary questions.” If the allegations are true, the electronic communications gathered up by the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies might be falling into the hands of a foreign government. Reviewing the available evidence, Robert David Steele, a former CIA case officer and today one of the foremost international proponents for “public intelligence in the public interest,” tells me that “Israeli penetration of the entire US telecommunications system means that NSA’s warrantless wiretapping actually means Israeli warrantless wiretapping.”
    Story continues at:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/ketcham09272008.html

    Reply

  13. Toto says:

    Wow. “Former citizen of Israel”…now that is harsh. What does it
    even mean? The man was born in America to an American mother
    and is an American. The only reason he might be considered an
    Israeli is because his father was and thus had dual citizenship like
    millions of other Americans. So? As to his IDF affiliation, looks to
    me like he was a civilian volunteer repairing truck brakes for
    godsakes. But let’s be clear here: His job is chief of staff, not head
    of ME policy. Obama is head of policy. As someone wisely pointed
    out above, it took Nixon to go to China. If anything Emmanuel
    doesn’t have anything to prove to the Israelis. The pudding will tell.
    The idea that one choice 4 days into Obama’s “term” as president-
    elect no less says anything about whether he’ll be transformational
    or same ole is beyond ridiculous. But so typical of the left–let’s
    kill our guy while he’s still in the womb (no reference to abortion
    one way or another intended).

    Reply

  14. Kathleen Galt says:

    Questions…Rahm Emmanuel was a former citizen of Israel and did indeed volunteer in the Israel Defense Force.
    Serious conflict of interest.
    So much for Obama being a “transformational” President. The honeymoon is over before it even started. One of Aipac’s foot soldiers is now the Chief of Staff for the President of the U.S.
    Amdocs, Comverse Infosys, Verint and the other Israeli based telecommunication systems that were spying on the White House in the 90’s must have some real poison on the U.S. government.

    Reply

  15. Tintin says:

    Steve…as an old Nixon hand…or at least as someone who I think
    admires Nixon’s foreign policy…some of it at least…you might
    consider that Emmanuel may benefit from the Nixon Goes To China
    phenomenon…or even the Sharon pulls out of Gaza phenomenon.
    Obama may need a hardliner-ish person to finally move to a real
    resolution and a Palestinian state and keep the right wingers off his
    back. Just a thought.

    Reply

  16. Morton's Friend says:

    I’m hardly asking for it to be suppressed, AD, merely giving you my
    opinion of its quality having read it. You seem to think it’s worth
    quoting even though you haven’t read it.
    If you want to buy, please, be my guest. I don’t recommend it, but
    it’s your money and time.

    Reply

  17. arthurdecco says:

    The working link to the story I quoted from above:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/whitbeck11072008.html
    I haven’t read Gideon’s Spies, Morton’s Friend. But now that you have recommended that it be suppressed, I’ll be ordering a copy and reading it carefully.

    Reply

  18. Morton's Friend says:

    Gideon’s Spies not so tasty…
    “This book is a mixture of fact (the one-page list of Mossad’s
    Directors and their tenures) and sentences about real or imaginary
    events, techniques and things the author understands poorly,
    couched in the language of a third-rate fiction thriller. If you don’t
    have it, don’t buy it and so hopefully prevent another edition and
    therefore save some trees, vastly nobler creatures. If you have it,
    and didn’t like it, give it to a paper recycler. If you liked it, well,
    tastes difffer.”

    Reply

  19. arthurdecco says:

    Food for thought from another blog’s comments section: “Neal Travis of the New York Post reports that, according to a new book on the Mossad, Israel blackmailed President Clinton with 30 hours of tapes of his phone sex talks with Monica Lewinsky. The agency allegedly agreed not to release the material in return for Clinton calling off an FBI hunt for a top-level Israeli mole supposedly in the White House. The allegation appears in “Gideon’s Spies – The Secret History of the Mossad,” written by Gordon Thomas. Lewinsky testified under oath that after a session of heavy petting and oral sex in the White House, Clinton told her a foreign embassy was tapping the two phone lines in her DC apartment. She claims Clinton told her that if questioned they should say they knew their calls were being bugged and were only joking to fool the tappers. Kenneth Starr does not pursue the matter. Thomas tells the NYP: “So far as anyone knows, the Israeli agent MEGA – a much more important spy than the imprisoned CIA traitor Jonathan Pollard, and probably his controller – is still in place at the White House.”
    THE MOLE WAS RAHM EMANUEL he resigned with little media fanfare, the day Bebe Netanyahu showed up in a Washington Press conference with a shit eating grin.. smoking a big cigar.”

    Reply

  20. arthurdecco says:

    The Promised Land? Obama, Emanuel and Israel
    By JOHN V. WHITBECK
    In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran whose father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin’s Irgun forces during the Nakba and named his son after “a Lehi combatant who was killed” — i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir’s terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.
    In rapid response to this news, the editorial in the next day’s Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled “Don’t pin much hope on Obama — Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message”. This editorial referred to the Irgun as a “terror organization” and concluded: “Far from challenging Israel, the new team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing.”
    That was always likely. Obama repeatedly pledged unconditional allegiance to Israel during his campaign, most memorably in an address to the AIPAC national convention which Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery characterized as “a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning”… story continues at:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/whitbeck11072008.htmlThe Promised Land?

    Reply

  21. yasmin says:

    Emanuel’s racist father on Arabs, from the Jpost:
    “In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.””
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1225910047157&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Reply

  22. Matthew says:

    A Palestinian state is inevitable. It will be recognized on the West West Bank or the Gaza Strip soon–or the PA should dissolve and the demand for “one person, one vote” in all historic Palestine should begin. Both solutions work for me.

    Reply

  23. rafi schutzer says:

    The Middle East peace business will NEVER be put out of business.
    As an instructive comparison, we now have a black president but Oprah and Fresh Prince, the two biggest gazillionaires in black America, still feel rejected. The point is that some people are NEVER satisfied.
    —————————————-
    Quote of the Day: Chips-On-Their-Shoulders Still Affixed to Gazillionaire Black Celeb Obama Fans; #1 Movie Star in U.S. Claims America “Reject[s]” Blacks
    By Debbie Schlussel
    Will HOprah Winfrey ever stop using her show as an Obama-gloatfest? Don’t count on it. Yesterday, two days after the election, HRHSBotU [Her Royal Highness Supreme Being of the Universe] Oprah was suppoed to be promoting Will Smith’s upcoming movie, “Seven Pounds,” but instead, she spent the first 25 minutes of her daily TV talk show co-gloating with Smith about Barack Obama’s election.
    The display of the matching giant chips–more like boulders–on the shoulders of this pair of gazillionaires was hilarious only in its absurdity. After being asked how he felt about the Obama win by HRHSBotU Oprah, Will Smith answere, thus:
    You wanna be a part of America, but we’ve been rejected for so long that it’s hard to take owenership.

    Reply

  24. Gail S says:

    Of course they are upset, Pres-Elect Obama has been bought and paid for.
    Just wait and see if he actually does anything good for our nation and economy. Then he will really be in the dog house.
    Best regards,
    Gail S

    Reply

  25. questions says:

    On the foreign army/Emanuel thing:
    Of the three stories, only the second is a myth — Emanuel lost the finger to a meat slicer as a teenager and never served in the Israeli army. But it’s a measure of his considerable reputation as the enforcer in Clinton’s White House that so many people believe it to be true. You don’t earn the nickname “Rahmbo” being timid.
    ________
    Maybe there’s some other Israeli army status people are referring to?
    It’s an interesting older piece on Emanuel from Rolling Stone. He may be fine doing Obama’s bidding. I suppose we’ll find out in time.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/8091986/the_enforcer/

    Reply

  26. rich says:

    Nader,
    If it’s Dennis Ross in charge of Israeili-Palestinian-American process, you’ll be s___-outta-luck. I don’t believe he has the leadership, imagination, or the respect of the American public to be effective.
    Don’t get me wrong: Ross may be capable and even have a line on a solution.
    But he really, really did not impress with the way he handled that process under George W. Bush. Say we give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was forced to follow instructions from Bush, Cheney and Rice.
    That said, the American public–as well as folks in Israel and Palestine–saw Ross lead the process in the wrong direction. It was mediocre. It damaged any prospect that America could achieve substantive results. And it kept us in ‘the peace business.’
    Keep in mind this is based on what we saw publicly; Ross may be a skilled guy leading a neutered negotiation. The process Ross led was much ado about zero, and from where I sat, was a total embarrassment, and entirely symptomatic of America’s loss of international stature and power.
    I hope I’m wrong. Obama must see him as useful on some level. But I would definitely see his leadership as a continuation of Bush’s policy, and a clear indication there will be no resolution.
    Dennis Ross is Bush III.

    Reply

  27. Nader Abdelnour says:

    Obama’s first choice certainly turned my dial of hope for real change down a couple of notches with his first choice for cabinet. Emanuel hasn’t crossed party lines, and moreover has too much invested in keeping the status quo with American-Isreali policy.
    Anyone who has ever been to the occupied territories for even an hour could never see what’s happening as anything less than apartheid. There’s nothing to debate on this issue, it’s cut and dry. just follow international law from 1967, and with Palestinian dignity will come Isreali security.
    I hope that Barack can include members of his cabinet that might have a more even handed approach to help support a quick, fair, and just settlement of the situation. Otherwise, no justice, no peace.
    Nader

    Reply

  28. arthurdecco says:

    Harry, You and your non-stop-lying ilk sicken me, and I’m sure, anyone else familiar with the facts behind your outrageous lies piled on top of more ludicrous and bigot-based lies, all in defense of the indefensible policies and actions of racist Israel.
    And Marilyn, the Golan Heights legally belong to Syria, you nincompoop. The Heights, like most of Palestine, are ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED by Israel.
    What is it that is so very WRONG with you people that allows you to think we’re all stupid and uninformed enough to believe your never-ending Krap?
    One thing’s for sure – you’re certainly not the brightest bulbs in the pack.

    Reply

  29. Harry says:

    Why is a Palestinian State the key to mid-east happiness? We are
    fooling ourselves to think that forcing a deal on Israelis who
    already want peace in the worst way is going to solve anything.
    They gave back the Gaza and now get regular barrages of missiles
    on heavily populated cities.
    Is that what we stand for? For “even-handed” treatment of a
    Hamas government that (i) throws missiles willy-nilly into civilian
    areas, (ii) kills/tortures captured Israeli soldiers in a worse way than
    Abu Grahib, (iii) discriminates against and represses atheists and
    any theist other than a Muslim theist, (iv) discriminates against
    women, (v) discriminates against gays and lesbians, (vi) uses child
    labor – both for real work and for killing and bomb-belt work and
    (vii) provides a horridly racist education to its children (its
    textbooks still refer to Jews as monkeys and spawns of Satan).

    Reply

  30. FrankDialogue says:

    What are you all talking about?…Rahm Emmanuel is straight-up Mossad…He is Obama’s handler for Israel…But, as a Congressman in that ‘toddlin’ town’ Chicago, he also makes a good buck doing deals there, with his connections to all elements of organized crime, his connections to the Chicago Mercantile & Commodities exchanges…He will firmly control Obama, jst as his fellow dual citizen neo-con traitors ran the Bush administration…’Hope for Change’?…Forget it…We need ‘America First’.

    Reply

  31. Steve M says:

    I think the main news flash here is that any concerns about Obama not being able to govern from the center are now laid to rest. No one would claim that Emmanuel is some crony or some ideologue left over from frustrated revolutionary groups.
    I see the concerns about him being a centrist or a neocon, but a second ago obama was our guy because he’s not beholden to the special interests, right? So let’s not write our cheickens’ obituaries before they’ve hatched. 🙂 thanks.

    Reply

  32. Tintin says:

    “How to impose a solution? Simple. Whisper in Israel’s ear…no
    peace settlement.. then no more US money, no more US support.
    It will be the whisper heard round the world and change the
    ME’s and the rest of the world’s view of the US overnight. If Israel
    indicates they prefer to pull down the temple pillars of the ME
    then send in the Marines.”
    Why anyone thinks this would change Israeli policy toward the
    Palestinians is beyond me. Think of all the “rogue” states that
    do as they please without U.S. funding. Think of all the
    countries in the world who would be eager to sell arms to the
    Israelis. Even if this were politically feasible in the US, and it’s
    not, this is not a solution and could, easily, make things worse
    as the rightwing in Israel will make the argument that the world
    really is “against us.”
    Nothing can substitute for sustained diplomatic efforts from the
    U.S…

    Reply

  33. Arizona says:

    Marilyn, why do you seem to care about what is good for Israel
    more than what is good for the U.S.? Emanuel is an Israeli citizen
    and has demonstrated his allegiance to Israel over and over, so you
    can sleep easily.
    I would suggest that one should live in the country that one has
    the most profound allegiance to, and not accept a position in the
    highest level of government of the country that is not yours, by
    choice.

    Reply

  34. Marilyn says:

    The choice of Rahm Emanuel is frightening. He is as left-wing partisan as anyone can posibly be. Emanuel is behind the handshake between Yassir Arafat (head of the terrorist PLO organization) and Rabin. He would not hesitate to give away Israel’s Golan Heights as a gesture of peace during the next Ramadan season…Obama is fast showing his true colors.

    Reply

  35. Wrensis says:

    Why are the networks saying he has not accepted the job?
    Thanks in advance

    Reply

  36. Kathleen Galt says:

    Steve thanks for taking this on. The majority of so called progessive bloggers are far too chicken shit to take on this critical issue. When the I/P conflict, I lobby come up the so called progressive bloggers merge with the MSM. This issue is off limits.
    How does Obama’s selection of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff reflect change?
    Rahm Emmanuel supported the Bush administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq. Emmanuel served as a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Occupying Forces during the first Iraq war. Is this legal for an American citizen, for a Congress person, for a Chief of Staff?
    Seems apparent that this is a conflict of interest

    Reply

  37. Nadne says:

    “Plus ca change , plus c’est la meme chose”…
    Ie ” the more it changes , the more they stay the same” says the proverb. I am sad at Emmanuel’s appointment. It will send a very bad signal to the middle east and it proves that O is not different from all the ones before him: the system eats you, there is no way to really venture outside the beaten track.

    Reply

  38. steveoh says:

    Samuel, I can see you haven’t checked out the Kuentzel links. My
    country is under occupation from tin hatted conspiracy idiots like
    you.
    And you ask me to do better. You offer no connection to historical
    facts, only bias. True Americans support successful democracy.
    You lack the moral compass from your last post for me to waste
    another moment debating history and middle east studies. For if
    you chose to discover the facts, they are staring you in the face.
    Read Kuentzel for a taste, then get back to me.

    Reply

  39. WigWag says:

    Here’s a great new test for President-Elect Obama and Chief of Staff Emanuel. According to Bloomberg News, Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, is making a bid to replace Representative John Dingell as head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
    The battle pits Waxman, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the 12th-most senior House lawmaker, against Dingell, 82, the most senior House member.
    Waxman is universally recognized as an environmentalist and a progressive on energy issues. Dingell, in addition to being an ornery bastard is am apologist for the automobile industry (he’s from Michigan) and he’s the National Rifle Association’s favorite Democrat.
    Obama’s energy plan will have to go through Energy and Commerce Committee and so will any rescue of General Motors or Ford. The Committee also has jurisdiction over alot of environmental legislation.
    Dingell is skeptical of global warming and has fiercely resisted increasing CAFE standards. Waxman would be a huge improvement.
    Obama and Emanuel need to help push Dingell out so Waxman can assume the chairmanship of this Committee.
    When Trent Lott (who was Senate Majority leader) put his foot in his mouth by complimenting Strom Thurmond, the Bush Administration intervened to move him out and they installed Bill Frist as Majority Leader in the Senate.
    It would be a great step forward for the environment and energy policy if the Obama Administration emulated the Bush Administration in this regard and moved Dingell out and moved Waxman in.

    Reply

  40. samuel burke says:

    come on steve you can do better than that….just pretend that
    youre attacking the cuban lobby (the decrepit outdated cuban
    lobby), what is it about the zionist americans that cause you to
    bend your spine?
    emanuel ran of to serve in the israeli defense occupying forces
    during the gulf war….the comes back to the u.s to represent
    israel as an undercover congressman.
    my greatest fear about emanuel is that he might perpetuate a
    “false choice” orientation towards israel in middle east affairs
    that he’s going to have to compensate for and get under control.
    there are no rational alternatives in the middle east than actually
    delivering on a palestinian state and finally putting the middle
    east peace business out of business.
    stand up for your rights steve…youre govt is under occupation.
    dont be afraid, just pretend that youre one of the brave founding
    fathers and talk it up…… “dont tread on me”.

    Reply

  41. steveoh says:

    Carroll. It Is IRAN IRAN IRAN IRAN who are controlled by a
    theocratic facist government that stones women and publicly
    executes homosexuals. It is IRAN IRAN IRAN (the Mullahs) and
    (Ahmadenijad) who believe in the coming of the 11th Imam and
    that their must be a catastrophic war against the infidels,
    including but not limited to Jews, Christians, Sunni’s, Buddists,
    you name it. To think that MAD is an alternative with regards to
    Iran is naive and foolish. No wonder you cast your vote for the
    Israel hating Nader.
    You would gladly toss Israel the only democracy in the region,
    under the bus, why? Now take a look deep inside yourself.
    Come on look deeper. You can see it. YOU HATE JEWS!!!!
    Whether you are Jewish yourself, start reading Sartre Anti Semite
    and Jew. Then move on to the important work of Mattias
    Kuentzel, who can lay out for you the true nature and actions of
    the middle eastern govt’s dating back to the fall of full Islamic
    control under the Ottoman Empire.
    http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=1636
    http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/hitlers-legacy-
    islamic-antisemitism-and-the-impact-of-the-muslim-
    brotherhood
    Go ahead keep underestimating these madmen. Why do you
    wish to allign yourself with the most murderous regimes in the
    universe? How can tiny Israel be responsible for the millions of
    murdered Muslims around the world, while the UN, Russia and
    China stand back and smile. Why don’t you try reading
    something other than Chomsky, Finkelstein.
    You, who lend legitamacy to the many horrific dictatorial
    regimes are complicit in the crimes they commit. In Darfur, Iran,
    Syria and a host of other evil regimes.
    Israel Israel Israel. Deserves our support for a reason.
    Finally before you go on “your displacement and “right of return
    arguments” What of the 750,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab
    nations who were forced from their homes with the clothes on
    their backs from 48-67. They number in the millions now. Yet
    they were absorbed by a compassionate democracy, which
    flourishes without an ounce of oil. The Palestinians have been
    used by their Arab and Muslim brothers, never absorbed, even
    though Jordan is 60% Palestinian and was always the bulk of the
    original partition plan. Research Black September.
    Clueless, indoctrinated ideologue.

    Reply

  42. arthurdecco says:

    Yesterday’s ‘hopeful’ Americans have been SO screwed over. After reading Wig-Wag’s potential list of appointees to the Obama administration’s transition team, I have lost all hope for your rational national future. Emanuel is only the most despicable choice in a long list of dangerous people who should never have been allowed near the reins of power in a country as emotionally damaged, media-manipulated, overly militarized and under-educated as the United States.
    You poor bastards. The worst elements of Israel now OWN you, lock, stock and barrel.
    PS: Explain to me, Zio4life, how any of the ideologies you support advance the interests of AMERICANS? Oh…they don’t?!?

    Reply

  43. ZIO4LIFE says:

    As an Israeli-American I am proud that Obama chose Emanuel to be his chief of staff. Obama has promised that he is a good friend of Israel’s and this is a good way of showing it. 77% of Jews came out for him and probably supported him financially a lot more, not to mention supporting his rise to politics in Chicago. People on this site bad-mouthing Zionists (people who believe Jews should have a homeland, just like every other national group…including Palestinians) should really study the facts more closely. Israel has conceded huge swathes of territory (Sinai Peninsula to Egypt) in the interest of peace. The failure is on the part of the Palestinians and the Arab world to refuse to recognize a Jewish state in their midst. Read Hamas’ (elected by majority) charter. They want all of Israel for a state, from Tel Aviv to Haifa to Jerusalem. Can’t negotiate with that and I’m glad that Obama is intelligent enough to see that.

    Reply

  44. Mr.Murder says:

    Gates pushed back on the Iran demonization. If he stays true to the NIE and stays at DoD, these neoclowns can be put down.

    Reply

  45. Carroll says:

    Let’s see what Obama does with Dennis Ross. It took 8 years for the GOP to destroy itself…I think it’s entirely possible the dems can deep six themselves (and finish off the country)in 4.
    The neo and zios haven’t gone away and the push for war with Iran is as strong as ever. Just as Bush started backing off, the Israeli congressional dems started pushing forward on it.
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2008/11/more-neocon-cle.html
    Col. Pat Lang
    More Neocon Cleverness on Iran
    “The report warns that the next administration “might have little time and fewer options to deal with this threat.” It explores such strategies as blockading Iran’s gasoline imports, but it also says that “a military strike is a feasible option and must remain a last resort.”
    Its authors include Dennis Ross, top Mideast adviser to Mr. Obama, and former Senator Dan Coats, a McCain adviser.
    Ashton Carter, a senior Pentagon official in the Clinton administration, wrote a paper for the Center for a New American Security, a prestigious bipartisan think tank, that asserts military action must be seen as only one component of a comprehensive strategy, “but it is an element of any true option.”
    At a conference in September in Virginia sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “surrogates” for Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama insisted America must focus on preventing Iran from developing a bomb, not on allowing Iran to produce one and then deterring its use.
    What does this “new thing” amount to?
    The Jacobin neocons have developed a more sophisticated “bi-partisan” approach to moving the United States to war against Iran.
    Dennis Ross is a principle figure in an Israeli think-tank dedicated in its mission statement to the advancement of the interests of the Jewish People. When he took that position he was asked if it was seemly for a former US Ambassador who more or less ran the Peace Process as a guarantor of US neutrality to accept such a role. His reply was that he thought it was. After all, he said “they are my people.”
    I suppose Palestinians could be forgiven for doubting that he was ever neutral.
    The “Washington Institute for Near East Policy” is AIPAC’s wholly owned subsidiary. It exists to serve what it sees as Israel’s interests. It is one of a galaxy of AIPAC satellites in Washington. JINSA, BENS, AEI. The list is long.
    Let us be clear. It is ISRAEL. ISRAEL. ISRAEL that would be threatened by Iranian possession of a nuclear weapon and delivery means. It is ISRAEL that does not believe in nuclear deterrence. You know, MAD (mutual assured destruction). MAD is the deterrent strategy that allowed the world to survive the Cold War, but it is not good enough for Israel. An Iranian nuclear threat to Europe or the US is so far away in time that it is not even a cloud seen on a far horizon.
    The Israeli military knows that unless it uses nuclear weapons, it can not successfully attack Iran without US assistance. That is why the neocons are now trying to propagandize the American political parties and the American people into supporting a US war against Iran.
    Iran is a state. Iran has “state Interests.” Ahmadinajad does not control the Iranian Armed Forces. Ahmadinajad does not control the Iranian Armed Forces.
    It is my considered opinion that Iran would not yield to a US air campaign. Such a campaign would be merely the “first round” in a long war, eventually involving a ground war in that huge country, but that would probably be a desired outcome for the neocons.”
    PL

    Reply

  46. Carroll says:

    Steve is Right.
    The Middle East peace business must be put out of business. It’s been a 40 year stall game mainly on Israel’s part while they create ‘more facts on the ground’.
    And a solution must be imposed on Israel-Palestine.
    Otherwise there will never be peace settlement.
    And I said this 6 years ago. So congradulations to Steve for coming round to reality on Isr-Pal.
    How to impose a solution? Simple. Whisper in Israel’s ear…no peace settlement.. then no more US money, no more US support. It will be the whisper heard round the world and change the ME’s and the rest of the world’s view of the US overnight. If Israel indicates they prefer to pull down the temple pillars of the ME then send in the Marines.
    I don’t expect this will happen naturally as a policy in an Obama adm but I do expect Israel to throw Obama curves, testing how long they can pull the same stall game on him, and then he will have to chose whether he will live up to what he promised Americans for America and the world at large or whether he will cave to the jewish lobby. Should be interesting.
    As for Rham…he’s a Israeli, nothing more need be said. It did occur to me when I first heard it that perhaps Obama was taking Rham out of congress maybe for a reason of his own. So Rahm couldn’t whip the dems on Rham own agendas to oppose Obama on certain things. But then when I saw the full list of appointees Obama was considering and saw Jane Harman up for the CIA and/or National Intelligence and the JINSA guy William Bratton for Homeland Security..well there is nothing that needs to be added to that either. You can’t have America’s best interest at heart and risk appointing known Israeli and AIPAC adherants to sensitive US agencies…especially DHS, the CIA and National Intelligence. We still have the AIPAC spy trial in the works after 3 years of delays.
    The appointment list is what, after supporting Obama all year, made me do a write in for Nader at the last minute. So I have no emotional involvement with the Obama Adm and will continue to be a cynic unless..and until.

    Reply

  47. Mogen David says:

    Well, lets see; Louis Farakhan will be very angry at this appointment. So will Reverend Wright. It looks like Business As Usual; Israel is in the driver’s seat, running the foreign policy of the United States. With a Mossad Agent as Chief of Staff, an attack on Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia is in the making. Watch for another “False Flag” coming soon!

    Reply

  48. Cee says:

    Has this poor guy worked in vain?
    A young Palestinian in a Gaza refugee camp is doing his part to get out the vote for Barack Obama. With a little help from the Internet, 24-year-old Ibrahim Abu Jayab is cold calling random American families from his parent’s home imploring them to vote Obama.

    Reply

  49. Madrid says:

    All you optimists about Obama are about to find out real quick-like that nothing fundamental will change about US Mid-east policy in an Obama administration. Emanuel is just the first of a bunch of appointments that are essentially indistinguishable from Bush’s neocon kitchen cabinet. Look up, if you dare, what Emanuel has said about Israel’s ruthless bombing of the Palestinians and the Lebanese. Look up what he has said in support of the Iraq war.
    Recall now how devoted the anti-war groups were to Obama– they were largely responsible for him winning the primary against Hillary, and measure that against him appointing the proud son of an Irgun terrorist, who served in Israel’s depraved military, as his chief of staff.
    Now watch the rest of the democratic version of neocons march into an Obama administration: Ross and Indyk are next. If a Chuck Hagel, a Robert Malley, a Jim Webb, a Brezinski, or a Murtha ever get within 100 feet of Obama’s administration, I’ll eat my words, but until then, I’ll bank on my prediction that Obama has a great future in bombing Middle Eastern countries into oblivion. Great future…

    Reply

  50. Dennis says:

    Anyone with a personal agenda does not belong in this position.
    Emanual may be fine, IF, Obama keeps him on a line. If he doesn’t like the line there’s always the private sector.
    Keep Israel on a line, too.

    Reply

  51. Wordie says:

    I’ve heard different reports this afternoon. TPM has an article up that quotes an Emanuel staffer who says the first reports of the Emanuel appointment weren’t accurate (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/11/emanuel_spokesperson_denies_he.php), but the story is still circulating widely throughout the msm now, and it’s hard to know what the status of the appointment actually is. Anybody know?
    I don’t think the appointment of Emanuel is such a hot idea. He’s got too much baggage, deserved or not, and Obama shouldn’t saddle himself with someone who could prove to be a distraction, in my view. There’s too much else he needs to focus on.

    Reply

  52. JohnH says:

    Though I dislike Emanuel, as I posted, I think that other posters are correct in saying that Obama will make his own foreign policy. It will not be like Bush’s in the sense that it will not be arrogant, unilaterist, exceptionalist, and dismissive towards those who disagree. It will be more like Clinton’s in the sense of trying to create a good feeling towards the USA.
    But unlike Clinton, who schmoozed because he needed to be liked, Obama will schmooze to diffuse tensions and build confidence as a long overdue basis for productive, cooperative work. Likudites, neocon men, and the merchants of death who underwrite them will despise and assail his “lack of spine,” which will be a thin veil for their disappointment in his lack of commitment to warmongering as the primary foreign policy option.

    Reply

  53. WigWag says:

    After reading Dan Kervick’s thoughtful comment (at 5:32 pm) I think he’s right. It was hyperbolic of me to suggest that Obama’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be closer to that of Bush than to that of Clinton. Actually, I think (and hope) that Obama’s tenacity in pursuing a peaceful resolution to the conflict will be similar to Clinton’s.
    I also think Dan Kervick is right that Obama will try to use Camp David and Taba as a starting point, and that negotiators like Dennis Ross will play a leading role. Of course, if Netanyahu forms the next government in Israel (which is likely but not certain) Obama’s efforts will be stifled. Given the political realities in the United States, I doubt he will press the Israelis very hard. My point is that Hillary Clinton would have been able to press the Israelis more firmly than Obama will be able or willing to.
    From what I can discern from Steve Clemon’s post, what he advocates is something different. Steve thinks the only way to achieve peace is for the US to play a very aggressive role and to impose a settlement if necessary (how he thinks the US can actually achieve that would be interesting to hear). Steve seems to think the “Middle East peace business” is the problem not the solution.
    To me, the prospect that an Obama Administration will ignore “peace industry entreprenurs” like Dennis Ross or Martin Indyk (or other Saban Center alumni) and instead rely on people like Robert Malley seems dim at best. To do so would require considerable boldness. And it would require defying the instincts and advice of his Vice President and his new Chief of Staff.
    Other than deciding to run for President, when during his public life has Barack Obama done anything bold?
    I guess you could say his (unfortunate) decision to defy his core supporters to vote in favor of FISA was bold.
    But it’s hard to think of anything else.
    If we get as much boldness on the Middle East from Obama as we got from Bill Clinton it will be a pleasant surprise.

    Reply

  54. Liz says:

    Well there goes the “great people skills” criteria for the Chief of Staff position. I suppose President Obama will need Joe Biden and others to pick up the slack in diplomacy where his sharp elbowed Chief of Staff is concerned. President Obama (my that sounds wonderful) is going to be hammered from this day forward with all the frustrated agendas of democrats, liberals, foreign governments, environmentalists, and multitudes of other agendas which have been thwarted over the past 8-30 years. He absolutely must have a loyal and kick-ass gatekeeper. I don’t particularly like Rahm Emanuel and I do wonder if his massive ego will get in the way, however I trust President Obama not to tolerate Emanuel promoting his own agendas under the radar.

    Reply

  55. Zathras says:

    For what it’s worth, the White House chief of staff does not ordinarily play a major role in shaping foreign policy, no matter what his personal views. There no rule that says his couldn’t change in an Obama administration, but it would surprise me if it did.
    Passionate supporters of Israel are among the major organized interests that have long dominated the Democratic Party. A new Democratic President would no more shun people identified with this interest than he would people identified with trial lawyers, feminist groups or the teacher’s union. That need not, and in my personal opinion will not, mean that the appointment of a Jewish Congressman with many associations in pro-Israel groups to a staff job in the White House has implications for American policy toward the Middle East.
    If I’m wrong about this, well, I’m wrong. It’s not as if Sen. Obama has shared with me his blueprint for the next administration. I just don’t think that Obama, having run such a well-ordered campaign and having so many needs in getting a new administration ready for action, is starting out by picking people for one kind of job in the expectation that they would spend a lot of time doing work related to another kind of job.

    Reply

  56. Joe M. says:

    RAHM JOIND A FORIEGN MILITARY!!!! HOW CAN HE BE A CHIEF OF STAFF??? HAD HE JOINED THE CHINESE ARMY HE WOULD BE IN JAIL.
    OBAMA IS ALREADY A FALIURE FOR NOT CHALLENGING THE POWERS THAT BE. THOSE WHO BELIEVED HIM “HOPE AND CHANGE” WILL BE VASTLY DISAPPOINTED.

    Reply

  57. Chicagoan says:

    I’m no admirer of Emanuel and especially share Steve’s concerns, but I think this should mainly be read as a sign that Obama has absorbed the lessons of Clinton’s transition and isn’t going to allow his mandate to be squandered by a fractious Congress and its ineffectual leadership. I think many people here will be disappointed by Obama’s policy solutions and priorities, but with Emanuel and Biden as key liasons to Capitol Hill he’ll likely use his leverage to carry make sure that it’s his solutions and priorities that are being carried out and tended to.
    My big concern is that this has a whiff of fighting the last war about it.

    Reply

  58. WigWag says:

    So, Newsweek is reporting that President-Elect Obama has appointed an “Advisory Board” for his transition. The roster of the Advisory Board is:
    Carol Browner-Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Bill Clinton.
    William Daley-Clinton confidant and Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton.
    Christopher Edley-Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget under Bill Clinton
    Michael Frorman-Senior Aide to Clinton Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin
    Julius Genachowski-Senior Staff member of the FCC under Bill Clinton.
    Donald Gips-Cheif Domestic Policy Advisor for Vice President Al Gore.
    Janet Napolitano-Governor of Arizona
    Federico Peña-Secretary of Transportation under Bill Clinton
    Susan Rice- Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Bill Clinton
    Sonal Shah-Assistant Under Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton
    Ted Kaufman-Chief of Staff for Joe Biden and Clinton Appointee to Broadcasting Board of Governors (Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Marti and Voice of America)
    Mark Gitenstein-Chief Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee.
    Did I hear something about the possibility that an Obama Administration might resemble a Clinton Administration or am I just hallucinating?

    Reply

  59. Dan Kervick says:

    I suspect that Obama is going to take a much more activist approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that WigWag believes. I don’t think he will have a choice, really. Toward what end and what kind of final outcome I won’t predict. But Obama seems determined to address what he regards as a sprawling, multidimensional Middle East cock-up that Bush has left him, with an unsustainable commitment in Iraq, a wrong-headed approach on Iran and a severe attention deficit problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The situations in Pakistan and Iran (and Israel on the QT) also figure into the anti-proliferation issue which is very high on his personal list of priorities. My sense is that he is really eager to move boldly to re-engineer our entire relationship and strategic position in the Middle East in a broad and comprehensive way, with heavy involvement of US public and private diplomacy across the whole spectrum of issue.
    The issues in our Middle East portfolio are heavily intertwined, and unless Obama builds a potent support constituency among both some Israelis and some Arabs and Muslims, who are convinced the US is about to re-engage on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and start to make some progress there, he is going to be held back mightily in all of those other areas. He won’t be able to get strong Israeli buy-in for his initiatives with Iran, and won’t be able to draw popular Arab and Muslim support for almost anything.
    It’s time to move on Israel-Palestine again, after eight years of Bush neglect. Until we get progress toward some sort of resolution with Israel-Palestine, US policy in the Middle East is going to be dragging a huge ball and chain behind it, and is very vulnerable to outmaneuvering by more nimble and opportunistic competitors.
    My guess is that Obama is going to move fairly boldly in this area, picking up to some extent where Clinton left off with Camp David and Taba. I imagine Dennis Ross will be heavily involved, but hopefully he will employ some other folks who have more credibility with the Palestinians as well, like Robert Malley. Ross and Malley are seen as leaning different ways, so getting them both involved would signal productive creative tension and experience, aiming at forging a broad consensus.
    I expect Obama to act on his promise to engage diplomatically with Iran, but also to use that engagement to put the US back on the diplomatic offensive. He will make Iran a very serious and internationally credible grand bargain offer, but at the same time read Ahmadinejad the riot act where Israel is concerned.
    (By the way, my concerns about Emanuel weren’t really focused on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but on Emanuel’s reputation as a very partisan political hatchet man.)

    Reply

  60. sam sherraden says:

    77% of Jewish voters voted for Obama. Perhaps the American Jewish community is prepared to turn a new leaf and support a Palestinian state.

    Reply

  61. Curious observer says:

    They ain’t seen nothing yet is right. Larry Korb says there’s a push for the Russophobe Holbrooke at State — on a day when Medvedev says Russia will put in missile batteries in Kaliningrad. And Larry Summers back at Treasury — that’ll solve everything!

    Reply

  62. WigWag says:

    Not an obituary, Spunkmeyer, just the truth as I see it.
    So let’s see. We have former Clinton aide John Podesta running the transition team. We have Rahn Emanuel as Chief of Staff. What do you think, which former Clinton aide will be appointed next, Dennis Ross or Larry Summers? I’m betting on Summers.
    None of this bothers me, remember, I’m a Clinton fan.
    But I can see how Obama supporters might be a little shell-shocked. They better hold on to their hats, they aint seen nothing yet.

    Reply

  63. Spunkmeyer says:

    (glances at watch)
    Wow WigWag, that was even a little earlier than I thought you’d
    want to write the obituary for the Obama Administration. Why
    don’t you save something for after 1.20.09?

    Reply

  64. WigWag says:

    Barack Obama’s policy towards the Israel-Palestine conflict will be closer to that of George W. Bush than to Bill Clinton’s. Sure, Obama will use his rhetorical skills to make it sound like he is looking to advance the peace process, but it will be just that, rhetoric.
    Let’s not forget that Rahm Emanuel spent most of his time in the Clinton Administration, and later in the House of Representatives, focused on how to get Democrats elected to Congress. He will never support policies that hold the potential to anger important constituent groups in the Democratic Party.
    A higher percentage of Jews voted for Obama than any ethnic or religious group other than African Americans. According to exit polls, 78 percent of Jews cast ballots for Obama (77 percent voted for Kerry and 79 percent voted for Gore). Jewish votes were especially important in Florida (which Obama coveted but didn’t end up needing), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia suburbs), Ohio (Cleveland suburbs) and even Colorado (Denver suburbs) and Nevada (Las Vegas).
    While many Jewish Americans would be comfortable with, and even welcome, a President that they trust (like Hillary Clinton would have been) pressuring Israel to make concessions, they will be more reluctant to support a new President (who they don’t know or trust yet) in pressuring Israel.
    My guess is that Obama and Emanuel will be very cautious, probably too cautious to get anything important done.
    Steve Clemons has said that he is worried that an Obama Administration will be too much like a Clinton III foreign policy. After the euphoria of the Obama victory wears off, my guess is that Steve and others will yearn longingly for the foreign policy of Bill Clinton (remember the Arafat-Rabin handshake brokered by Clinton or the Israel-Jordan peace treaty). Washington Note readers who want to see peace achieved between the Israelis and Palestinians should have supported Hillary Clinton. The Obama team is much less likely to make it happen.
    And the same thing will apply to Cuba policy. Afghanistan is falling apart. Regardless of how we leave Iraq, a shooting war between Sunnis and Shiites in the middle of the country and between Shiites and Kurds in the North and near Mosul is inevitable. Pakistan poses a huge and very dangerous problem. And that doesn’t even count repairing relations with the Russians. In light of all of this, Cuba will be at the bottom of Obama’s list of foreign policy priorities. Will Emanuel let him spend any political capital on a foreign policy problem as unimportant as Cuba?
    Don’t count on it.

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  65. Spunkmeyer says:

    I trust Obama’s judgement — he’s pulled off what many, including
    some posters on this blog, thought he could not — so I’ll play a
    wait and see on this. He’s earned that right.
    It’s also incumbent on the American public to keep the heat on
    once there’s ACTUALLY an Obama Administration to make sure that
    a progressive agenda is maintained.

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  66. pacos_gal says:

    Perhaps the most important statement Obama has made in regards to his choice of Chief of Staff is when he says “he’ll have my back”. Obviously he wants someone he knows and feels will be “with” him rather than forwarding agendas of others. We’ll see how that plays out when it comes to Emanuel’s own opinions.
    I’ve seen Hagel mentioned by several people as a possible for Defense. And reports that Kerry at State would upset Republicans. There is a lot of interesting speculation on appointments right now.
    I have to agree with Lurker, Steve Clemons usu

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  67. Schmoltzie says:

    Look, Obama said he is 100% in Israel’s corner, 78% of Jews voted for him, so he has to deliver for the Jews and Israel whether Rahm is in his inner circle or not. Rahm just better not be a neo-con in sheep’s clothing; he needs to be turned out if that comes to pass.

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  68. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, this is the first bummer of the Obama administration. Allegedly, Obama really likes and trusts Emanuel. I wonder if a political payoff for vital services rendered (by Emanuel and/or the Clintons) is involved. To me, tabbing Emanuel sends an awkward and dissonant signal, and doesn’t harmonize well with the expansive non-partisan message Obama delivered last night.
    But, OK. Hopefully, Emanuel is ready and eager to implement the Obama agenda and governing style, and is not out to push Obama into the Emanuel agenda and governing style. I have to have some trust that Obama is not an easily-manipulated boob like Bush, and is smart enough to keep himself open to challenging ideas, and will push back if Emanuel starts to angle to keep Obama in the dark about voices Emanuel doesn’t like.

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  69. Ty Lookwell says:

    … “His father, the Jerusalem-born Benjamin M. Emanuel, is a pediatrician and was a member of the Irgun, a militant Zionist group/terrorist organization during British rule”
    huh. I did not know that.

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  70. JohnH says:

    As DCCC chair for the 2006 election, Emanuel recruited wealthy, pro-war candidates. I consider him a prime suspect in the castration of the Democratic Party and its impotence toward Bush’s Occupation of Iraq.
    http://www.truthout.org/article/special-report-democratic-house-officials-recruited-wealthy-conservatives
    Emanuel does not represent change we can believe in!

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  71. rich says:

    Obama knows Rahm from Chicago and I do trust his judgment. If Rahm can get things done—and he can—without substituting his own policy preferences, it can be a good match.
    As previously noted, I like Biden b/c the VP nomination frees him up to do his thing in a new role, not as candidate or Senator. He’s performed really well, and will exceed expectations as VP.
    A strong team so far. I’m sure it’ll get even better. But my sense is Rahm needs to be balanced out with other strong figures. (And not with Dennis Ross.)

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  72. rich says:

    Ugh. And I don’t say that as a ‘movement’ or ‘left’ guy—neither of which fit my politics.
    We need someone who can listen—not be so assured if his own intellect that THE key failures of the past 8-to-16-to-40 years receive no re-conceptualization and repair at all. If Rahm Emmanuel can balance national priorities with his hard-driving MO, ok.
    I doubt Rahm will be able to differentiate his own ideological preferences from the considered judgment of his President, though. Even if Obama can track a smooth course, he’ll think he knows better than us, and better than Obama—and that’ll cost us quantities of time and energy and money we can’t afford to lose.
    I expect to see major, course-correcting concerns of Repubs and Dems excluded from the agenda. If Obama can reign in Rahm, it’ll be a different story.

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  73. Lurker says:

    Dan Kervick and others really recoiled when Steve Clemons mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Rahm Emanuel was in the running and might get the job. As usual, many people said Clemons was wrong and that this choice couldn’t be made by Obama. And just as usual, Clemons was right.
    I don’t like the choice of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s gatekeeper but I’m very impressed that Steve Clemons so frequently brings us the straight scoop from what he’s hearing, whether we may like what he’s saying or not.
    TWN impresses again, but what can be done about these problem choices Obama may be making?

    Reply

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