Popping the Washington Post’s Rahm Bubble


emanuel smile twn.jpgFormer Washington Post “White House Watch” maven and current DC Huffington Post Bureau Chief Dan Froomkin powerfully deconstructs and pops the Rahm Emanuel bubble that the Washington Post has been puffing up.
The first puff came in a widely read Dana Milbank column. The second appeared on the Post‘s front page today under the authorship of former New York Observer journalist Jason Horowitz.
I have some points of friendly disagreement with Froomkin who paints Emanuel as an effective anti-idealist manipulator in an increasingly soulless and unprincipled, pragmatic Obama White House. As a former executive director of a public policy center named after Richard Nixon, pragmatic realism appeals — but it only matters if goals are reached and deals are sealed that move the nation’s welfare and circumstances forward. Rahm Emanuel’s Machiavellianism, if one can call it that, is a pale, unsuccessful, ineffective version.
That aside, Dan Froomkin’s depiction of Rahm Emanuel’s role in widening the gap between Obama the candidate and Obama the President is brilliantly scripted and needs to be read in its entirety.
But here is a considerable chunk:

The latest toxic meme to spread across the pages of my once-beloved Washington Post is that President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, is the one reasonable man in the White House.
First came perpetually disgruntled columnist Dana Milbank, suddenly a little ray of sunshine on the subject of the terribly underappreciated chief of staff: “Obama’s first year fell apart in large part because he didn’t follow his chief of staff’s advice on crucial matters,” Milbank wrote. “Arguably, Emanuel is the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter.”
According to Milbank, Emanuel is the antidote to “Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs, and, to a lesser extent, David Axelrod” who “are part of the Cult of Obama. In love with the president, they believe he is a transformational figure who needn’t dirty his hands in politics.”
Then came a front-page “news” story this morning by Jason Horowitz fully subscribing to the “contrarian narrative” that is “emerging” — that “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.”
Horowitz cavalierly dismisses criticism of Emanuel as being the inevitable result of his “outsize image” — and, like Milbank, casts Axelrod as a hopeless naïf:

“Axelrod has a strong view of the historic character Obama is supposed to be,” said an early Obama supporter who is close to the president and spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a frank assessment of frustration with the White House. The source blamed Obama’s charmed political life for creating a self-confidence and trust in principle that led to an “indifference to doing the small, marginal things a White House could do to mitigate the problems on the Hill. Rahm knows the geography better.”

But Emanuel is not the would-be savior of this presidency. For one thing, there really isn’t that much daylight between him and his boss, or between him and his top White House colleagues.
Had things gone even more his way, it’s possible that he would have squelched a few more of what few bursts of idealism and principle survived Inauguration. But people looking for the reasons why the Obama presidency has not lived up to its promise won’t find the answer amid the minor rifts between key players. Nor will they find the answer in how well or poorly this White House has played the game of politics. The fact is that after a campaign that appealed so successfully to idealism, Obama hired a bunch of saboteurs of hope and change.
Rahm was simply their chief of staff. And now, this hypercompetitive bantam rooster is attempting to blame others for what went wrong. That’s evidently so important to him that he’s trying to take a victory lap around the wreckage of what was once such a promising presidency.

And Froomkin’s kicker reminds of Edward R. Murrow:

Indeed, the most remarkable spectacle here is the ease with which Emanuel has been able to find reliable vessels to carry his water. Oh, to see his media speed-dial, and its collection of nattering process junkies, smug contrarians, split-the-difference stenographers, center-worshipping priests of High Broderism and corporatist cocktail-partiers who enable Emanuel’s brand of soulless political gamesmanship.
To Emanuel, victory is the only thing, and rather than recognize the error of his ways and recalibrate, he is publicly declaring that the now widely-recognized enfeeblement of his boss’s presidency is not his failure, but his vindication. Hail Emanuel triumphant.

Rahm Emanuel has many talents and deserves a place in Obama Land, but he has mismanaged the helm of the operation and failed to hit the targets he and the President needed.
Rather than waging a substantial campaign to save his own skin and to skewer others that are in and out of the Oval Office nearly as much as he is, he needs to help champion a sensible transition to a more effective team.
If we saw Emanuel fix Obama’s current problems by demoting himself and constructing a believable restart, then I might believe more of the Milbank and Jason Horowitz columns about Emanuel’s talents and leadership.
— Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: For important installments in this debate about the Obama presidency’s inner circle, read this by Edward Luce, this by Steve Clemons, this by Jane Hamsher, and this by Leslie Gelb.


30 comments on “Popping the Washington Post’s Rahm Bubble

  1. nadine says:

    “Once they entered the White House this team surrendered to business as usual.” (John Waring)
    Surrendered? Whatever makes you think they ever intended anything different? In _Game_Change_, Bill Clinton called Obama an “off the rack Chicago politician”. Sounds right to me.


  2. John Waring says:

    “The fact is that after a campaign that appealed so successfully to idealism, Obama hired a bunch of saboteurs of hope and change.”
    This line from Dan Froomkin says it all. I’m beyond anger at this point with this administration. I’m disgusted at the lack of backbone. Once they entered the White House this team surrendered to business as usual.
    Barack Obama is the problem. Rahm Emanuel is just the symptom.


  3. nadine says:

    “There’s been a shortage of criticism of Obama hereabouts? I hadn’t noticed.” (DonS)
    From Steve Clemons, yes. The brunt is deflected onto others.


  4. DonS says:

    There’s been a shortage of criticism of Obama hereabouts? I hadn’t noticed.


  5. nadine says:

    DavidT, the problem has to be with Rahm Emmanuel because nobody can fire Barack Obama, so it’s no use to criticize him directly.


  6. DavidT says:

    Hi Steve and other TWN posters,
    I am still at a loss, a point that others make here, at what the
    problem with Emanuel given Obama is the president?  My
    sense is that Steve, while not fond of this president, whoever
    he hires and whatever his actions, dislikes Emanuel for
    personal reasons.  I don’t know how else to account for his
    not explaining in what specific ways he has misserved his
    president.  It seems that the hottest button issues for Steve
    are those related to former White House Counsel Craig’s
    portfolio. While the treatment of Craig was far from
    exemplary, is it realistic to believe that Obama felt Craig was
    serving him well and should stay?  If one reads the latest
    New Republic profile of Emanuel it’s hard not to once again
    see that the issue is far less about him for those who seek his
    ouster than about his approach to policy, for good or ill, of
    intuitively (and based on discussions with many) making
    policy approaches based on their potential for political
    success whether it be through the legislative process or in the
    public discourse.  There are great advantages to this
    approach (and yes great disadvantages as well).   Ironically,
    and perhaps part of the reason Steve does not grapple with it
    is that it is similar to his approach to foreign policy.   One
    might call it “domestic realism” similar to Steve’s “foreign
    policy realism” as championed most explicitly by President
    Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger.
    A good example of the success of this approach is LBJ’s
    coordination of the first Civil Rights legislation passed by the
    Congress since Reconstruction would have looked to those
    who had fought for Civil Rights their whole lives to be a minor
    accomplishment if not sellout in compromise with the
    Southern Senators.  Johnson was the Emanuel of his day,
    believing that you clip what you need to to get passage so
    long as with passage you get movement in the direction of
    improvement.  He was at the center of virtually all the major
    civil rights legislation passed in this country.  Given that out
    president is African-American (or at least perceived as such
    even if his mother was caucasian), that approach seems to
    have born some fruit.  
    Whether or not you like this strategy, not grappling with it
    makes most criticisms of Emanuel to be beside the point.


  7. Paul Wicker says:

    Obama has been exposed as being all talk and no trousers. It seems that’s all he ever was. A shame really…and a shattering disappointment.


  8. nadine says:

    David Broder slams his own WaPo colleagues blowing up the Rahm bubble:
    “In the space of 10 days, thanks in no small part to my own newspaper, the president of the United States has been portrayed as a weakling and a chronic screw-up who is wrecking his administration despite everything that his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, can do to make things right.

    It sounded, for all the world, like the kind of orchestrated leaks that often precede a forced resignation in Washington.
    Except that the chief of staff doesn’t usually force the president out. When George H.W. Bush had had enough of John H. Sununu, of course it was Sununu who walked. Maybe the sources on these stories think Obama is the one who should leave. ”
    I’ll second that motion 😉 Broder continues:
    “…None of this would rise above the level of petty Washington gossip except that some of Emanuel’s friends are so eager to exonerate him that they are threatening to undermine the president. Milbank, presumably reflecting what he hears, calls Obama “airy and idealistic” and says he readily succumbs to “bullying” from Republicans and Democrats alike. I hope the mullahs in Iran don’t believe this.
    From too many years of covering politics, I have come to believe as Axiom One that the absolute worst advice politicians ever receive comes from journalists who fancy themselves great campaign strategists. ”
    Didn’t I say that “airy” was not a good word for a sitting President?
    P.S. Mr. Broder, the mullahs don’t need to read Milbank. They’ve been sniggering at us for a year already, as they rebuff our overtures and see one Obama-declared deadline after another pass without consequence.


  9. nadine says:

    questions, the interchange on tort reform showed that doctor costs did go down, and HMA costs did go down, and doctors have been voting with their feet, moving to Texas.
    Let’s put it this way: why on earth wouldn’t you want to limit frivolous lawsuits? Nobody is suggesting reforms that let malpractice go unpunished or won’t cover medical costs. But the frivolous lawsuits are lotteries for slip’n’fall lawyers trying to coax enormous “pain and suffering” awards out of juries. They drive malpractice insurance through the roof, esp. for obstetrics, they drive defensive medicine costs up, and the only beneficiaries are the lawyers. We don’t need to “study” it, several states have already implemented it. The only study required is copying them.
    The ONLY reason tort reform isn’t even on the table is that the Democrats are in the pocket of the trial lawyers. Period.
    “Legislation this complex, worked over for this long, doesn’t need to be restarted in this political climate.”
    ROFL, you mean the existing Cornhusker Kickbacks and Gatorade Giveaways aren’t enough, we should add more? It wasn’t “worked on” it was concocted in Pelosi and Reid’s offices — Democrats only. That’s why there’s no tort reform and it kills HSAs and every other cost control except the one government systems always turn to: Rationing, excuse me, “Best Practices” as determined by a centralized bureaucracy.
    The only real question about this bill is: was it designed by economic idiots who don’t understand that it will both cost trillions and cause our heath care system to break down, or was that the plan all along? Maybe they want the health care system to skyrocket in costs and break down and suffer massive shortages, so that they can step in and say, “This is no good. We tried a half-way measure and it didn’t work. It’s all the fault of those evil private insurance companies! So now we need a single payer system.”
    “You seem to have far more FAITH in markets than maybe you should.”
    And you have way, way more faith in government bureaucrats than you should. Markets fail sometimes; government bureaucracies fail most of the time. And you have no recourse. Because they’re the government!


  10. questions says:

    I have seen nothing that suggests that tort reform will lower medical costs. The interchange you and Sweetness had about Texas seemed to show that though there were fewer lawsuits, dr. premiums did not go down anywhere near as much as ins. co. profits went up. Texas has a horrible record for insurance coverage. I saw nothing that suggested that there were fewer instances of malpractice, just fewer lawsuits….
    As I noted then, cutting down on lawsuits is not necessarily a good in itself; not if there are still as many or more instances of bad medicine, not if dr’s run fewer tests and miss more problems, not if those badly wronged cannot collect sufficient funds to be compensated AND to pay for their lawyers.
    So studying tort reform would seem to make a whole lot more sense than simply going for the reform. It doesn’t look like it does much good, and it might do a lot of harm.
    Though I’m guessing you’re certain that either you’ll never need to sue a doctor, or you have enough money to pay the lawyer w/o contingency fees.
    And as for starting over, Buffet is a buffoon politically speaking. Starting over is a huge political mistake. Legislation this complex, worked over for this long, doesn’t need to be restarted in this political climate. It needs to be passed and patched as needed.
    And seriously, you should read the John Cassidy book on market failures. It’s a good book and his read of structural market failures might help you in your thinking. It’s not a radical book, it shows the kinds of flaws that, say, the prisoner’s dilemma shows. You seem to have far more FAITH in markets than maybe you should.


  11. nadine says:

    “Imagine the commercials: We gave the Republicans [cue the scroll of all their proposals in the final bill] much of what they asked for. They still said no. We de-politicized, they still said no. We listened. They said no. We acted. They said no….. We gave you health reform. They said no.” (questions)
    Yes, that is certainly part of the smoke and mirrors. If it puts Republicans off their game while they figure out how to answer the charge, or works well enough to flip even one or two Blue Dogs, it will have served its purpose.
    Of course it is purely cynical. The Republicans never asked for tort reform ON TOP OF the 2700 page bill that was negotiated without their input; they asked for tort reform WITHOUT a massive government takeover of health care.
    And it gets better: the new “bill” (it’s not actually a bill) doesn’t even contain tort reform — it contains a proposal for a commission to “study” tort reform, led by Kathleen Sebelius, who used to work as a lobbyist for the trial lawyers. Golly, I wonder what they will recommend?
    Hard to get more cynical than that.
    The danger for Obama is that, having spent a whole year denying the Republicans had any ideas, aided by a media that refused to discuss Republican ideas, he has now been forced to name some Republican ideas and even say they are not all bad. This is an admission to that part of the American public that understands something about economics that these sensible cost-controlling ideas were not in Obamacare before.
    Did you hear erstwhile Obama support Warren Buffet say that Obamacare was no good because it didn’t control costs, and they should start over?


  12. Thomas L.Sjovall says:

    The Obama white house did not have a good year.
    In 2009 this year may be no better this year.
    I think Obama need’s a new staff.


  13. DonS says:

    Susan, you’re right to a good degree of course, as are those others who say it’s on Obama, etc. However, if Obama sold us a bill of goods on the ‘change’ thing, commensurate with the huge outstanding issues, that’s one thing. And history wont be too kind. If, however, Obama sort of meant what he ‘said’, then things needs to be shaken up. Obama may or may not be able to stray too far from his predilection/obsession with bipartisanship and hands off leadership — for many of the reasons that have been hashed out here for months.
    But say he is savvy enough to grasp the dilemma and is not satisfied with the impact of his Office? AND that he has the courage to do something about it? That leaves a change in staff as the primary tool to change course and inject fresh energy, to address focus, message, and operations. Personally, I have no illusions about Obama being progressive. But being an ineffectual centrist allows the nation to continue to be disastrously influenced by the right wing narrative.


  14. DonS says:

    And while we’re OT thanks to me, here are a few words from a TWN favorite, Elizabeth Warren, with regard to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, via Open Left and Huffpost:
    “Apart from Senators, Elizabeth Warren had some particularly strong words about housing the CFPA in the Fed:
    “My first choice is a strong consumer agency,” the Harvard Law professor and federal bailout watchdog said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”
    Maybe Barack needs to bring Elizabeth into the WH for a little balance as to what serves the public interest; help Rahm (or preferably his successor) decipher what’s really behind all these polls that the knee shaking centrists and RW wackos wave around.
    And a neatish video on the issue:
    What is it about doing the right thing that you do not get, Rahm? Oh, I forgot, it’s all on Obama, you’re just a loyal foot soldier, albeit the preternaturally prescient one. Well, whatever, you both need a good boot in the butt.


  15. susan says:

    Ezra is right:
    The Obama administration doesn’t reflect Rahmism or Axelrodism or Gibbsism. It’s Obamaism.
    Presidents need good advice, of course, but on the mega issues we’re talking about, the tradeoffs are fairly clear. You could replace Emanuel with another chief of staff and if Obama still choose to go for large legislative initiatives but doesn’t crack the heads necessary to keep the process moving fast or decides that Republicans might really cooperate this time, the outcome will be no different. People are, of course, a lot more comfortable blaming staffers, because staffers can be changed and no one wants to countenance the fact that the president himself doesn’t agree with them.


  16. DonS says:

    Another evolving capitulation: The serious ‘centrists’, e.g., Dodd, are ‘coming to the conclusion’ that the only feasible place (read, GOP-approved) for the proposed consumer financial protection agency is in the consumer-averse/big bank prone Federal Reserve! Now will Rahm/Obama 1) even speak to this situation 2) find it another necessary evisceration of potential remedies for ordinary Americans? Putting in Treasury (because the GOP wouldn’t hear of an independent agency) was bad enough; but you know still not watered down enough for the repubs.
    Clearly, Dems should reject this ‘solution’, obstruct it if you will, rather than settle for this sell out. Where’s bully pulpit man when you need him Rahm? More ‘the best we could get’?


  17. samuelburke says:

    “I don’t really have a dog in this fight, so I ask this question with no
    agenda” (Wharfrat said)
    this line is way too classic to pass up.
    nobody has an agenda.


  18. WharfRat says:

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, so I ask this question with no agenda. To what extent can we hold Rahm Emmanuel accountable for the slow economic recovery?
    It seems to me all of Obama’s political problems are structural. I know that the President has some control over structural factors, but staff performance is largely a reflection of the political fundamentals (in particular, the economy), not the cause of a president’s success or failure.


  19. samuelburke says:

    Steve, good luck in trying to help the obama admin to turn
    things around, you offer a good critique of their first year in
    office and the shortcomings you see. I still am hoping against
    all odds that this admin can run the ball across the goal line on
    a couple of issues-one is the middle east israel-palestine issue
    and the other is the opening up of trade with cuba-by bringing
    down the embargo.
    “Not contented with the Obama Adminstration’s various pushes
    for additional sanctions on the international level and Congress’
    unilateral sanctions, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
    is calling for the US to adopt a Cuba-style embargo on Iran.”
    this excerpt below is from mondoweiss “phil”
    “Meanwhile, instead of being shown the door for the scathing
    Dana Milbank critique of his fellow White Housers and the
    President, last week Rahm was sent up to the Congress to give
    Nancy Pelosi her marching orders on the health care bill.
    To answer an earlier question we posed, it was beginning to
    appear that Rahm was “invincible” rather than on the way out.
    But reading the tea leaves from a front page WaPo article this
    morning by Jason Horowitz, “Hotheaded Emanuel may be White
    House voice of reason,” the issue of Rahm’s status may not be
    settled after all.
    As Joe Sudbay over at AMERICAblog wrote,
    “Rahm Emanuel is continuing his p.r. offensive in the
    Washington Post today with a front-page article proclaiming
    him to be the smartest person in the White House. If only
    Obama had the sense to listen to Rahm, all would be good in
    the world.”
    Sudbay concludes that “Rahm must think he’s in trouble if his
    people are pushing out these kinds of stories.”
    For lobby watchers, note the quote from Rep. Debbie
    Wasserman Schultz (D-FL),
    “Listening to Emanuel would serve all our overall goals. I think
    that Rahm’s considerable legislative experience translates into
    advice that the president should heed.”
    Wasserman Schultz represents Florida’s 20th congressional
    district, which includes a heavily Jewish portion of Broward
    county plus parts of Miami-Dade. She is a member of the
    National Jewish Democratic Council and Hadassah, two
    extremely pro-Israel organizations. Like Rahm she moved up
    the House Democratic hierarchy very quickly. Her ability to raise
    funds for her fellow Democrats certainly had something to do
    with that. Wasserman Schultz was quite willing to go on the
    record in support of Emanuel this morning in an article that
    hardly reflects well on the President.
    The actual examples in the article where Obama didn’t listen to
    Emanuel are rather lame. Emanuel, along with his buddy Sen.
    Lindsey Graham, considered a civilian trial of 9/11 mastermind
    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be a political mistake, while
    Obama decided that Attorney General Eric Holder should make
    the decision based on legal principle. Evidently, Rahm
    supporters favor the rule of the mob over the rule of law.
    It is stated that Emanuel favored a less ambitious health-care
    program than Obama decided upon, and then the article feigns
    that Emanuel thought jobs were the more important issue. Yet,
    Emanuel’s cave-in to Sen. Snowe on the inadequate stimulus
    package is not connected to the current political woes Obama
    now faces over the high unemployment rate.
    The disastrous Obama Mideast policy is not even mentioned.
    Hard to believe Rahm didn’t have advice on that.
    The public row over Rahm reflects the existing cracks in the
    Democratic Party. Whether Rahm stays or goes, it is hard to see
    the Administration changing its Mideast course, either on Iran
    or Israel-Palestine. The United States is closely on the path that
    Dennis Ross charted before the election, and we don’t hear any
    complaints from either Ross or Friends of Ross about the
    Administration’s policies. The silence is an indication Dennis is
    firmly in control.”


  20. questions says:

    Nadine, it’s not for confusing adversaries.
    The political point behind including medical spies, health savings accounts and whatever other b.s. the Republicans have come up with is first to work on de-partisanizing policy debates so that maybe some policy work can get done, and second, to show that ‘Pubs are being taken seriously. It’s far easier to use reconciliation when you can show that you really did give the minority party a voice.
    Imagine the commercials: We gave the Republicans [cue the scroll of all their proposals in the final bill] much of what they asked for. They still said no. We de-politicized, they still said no. We listened. They said no. We acted. They said no….. We gave you health reform. They said no.
    It’s actually pretty smart politics to include some Repub proposals, even if the proposals are fucking pathetic. They don’t really do harm for the most part, at least. And it’s good for political discourse in this country to try to get the balance between the presidency and the Congress back into a reasonable place. Power has long been skewed. And though there be national security concerns that are genuine, Congress really needs to be the first branch. Kinda like it is in the Constitution.
    I’m not a centrist in my policy preferences, but when it comes to the ways institutions function, one really ought to pay Rahmian attention to the ways institutions function. And the ways personalities function. And the way the system functions. You can get a lot of transformative work done while no one is watching. And that should be the goal of the dems.
    Take Naomi Klein’s work and stand it on its head. No good incremental step should be wasted.
    (Of course, I’m of the opinion that the HCR stuff IS incremental given that we already have a whole bunch of government health care and a whole lot of experience with negotiating with providers and providing insurance and the like. It does seem incremental to me!)


  21. Mr.Murder says:

    Hutchinson is smoked bacon.
    Why vote for GOP light when you can have an authentic pig to replace them?
    Perhaps Barack would prefer to try running for those republican votes as a GOP light option.
    Maybe Rahm could read the writing on the wall for him. It isn’t kosher to try and dance by their steps for your legistlation, but if it gets passed by reconciliation you still win.


  22. Linda says:

    In the long run it really doesn’t matter who in the West Wing is to blame or needs to be replaced. These discussions and articles only happen when an Administration is in deep trouble and not succeeding.
    It’s the same in Congress where the Democrats again have created a circular firing squad at each other as they always seem to do. A year from now when Republicans may well control at least one house of Congress, these kinds of blame games probably still will be going on.


  23. nadine says:

    Mr. Murder, no fear, no GOP ideas are being adopted, though a few may be discussed as a diversionary tactic. Obama is still pushing his bill via reconciliation. He just figures that if he puts out some new ‘program’ and claims that it’s “smaller” and incorporates “GOP ideas” it may confuse his adversaries long enough for to make some headway. Strictly smoke and mirrors.
    And of course, the CBO can’t score it because it isn’t really a bill.
    I doubt very much that Obama will persuade moderate Democrats to walk the plank for this, but we’ll see. I think Obama & Pelosi are out of other options.


  24. Don Bacon says:

    Rahm Emanuel is at the helm?
    I thought Obama was.
    Who’s in charge?


  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Saw that Rham and Hillary were recently spied huddling together over lunch. Wonder what the subject was”
    How best to undermine Obama, in Israel’s best interests, no doubt. How the hell Obama ever expected to change the dynamic in the Middle East with his appointments and cabinet picks is beyond me. His policy advocations were never served by his crew.
    Steve obviously refuses to confront the disaster that Hillary Clinton is, but she is FAR more damaging, and powerful, than Rahm Emanuel is. Factor in these sacks of shit like Reid and Hoyer, and a multitude of others, and we might as well have Netanyahu in the Oval Office, drooling on the nuclear trigger as he dreams of incinerating Muslims.


  26. Mr.Murder says:

    Pushback on Rahm, the same day Obama announces a bunch of GOP plans kept in legistlation for health care.
    Carry their water, on the broken back of your voting base.
    If you stay with the GOP on domestic policy, how exactly do you keep votes for staying in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    The lose-lose situation isn’t a winner.
    Notice the GOP got pushed hard over unemployment extensions. So you cower to their next agenda instead?
    If a balanced budget is so important, the combined three trillion of waste between the Pentagon and NASA that was noted before 9-11 could move your health care plan forward, revenue neutral.
    They still oppose pay-go but wish to block anything for economic progress on the principal of not being paid for?


  27. Carroll says:

    Saw that Rham and Hillary were recently spied huddling together over lunch. Wonder what the subject was.
    Most people have already given up on Obama and this adm, fair or not. They don’t even really care whose fault it is they didn’t get what was promised. They just see the same old same old for the most part.
    But I hope Steve and his Avatars can oust Rham, so Obama will be forced to rethink his presidential crutches.


  28. nadine says:

    “But Emanuel is not the would-be savior of this presidency. For one thing, there really isn’t that much daylight between him and his boss, or between him and his top White House colleagues. Had things gone even more his way, it’s possible that he would have squelched a few more of what few bursts of idealism and principle survived Inauguration. But people looking for the reasons why the Obama presidency has not lived up to its promise won’t find the answer amid the minor rifts between key players. Nor will they find the answer in how well or poorly this White House has played the game of politics. The fact is that after a campaign that appealed so successfully to idealism, Obama hired a bunch of saboteurs of hope and change.” (Froomkin)
    Ah, yes, pushback by blaming the staff and the chief of staff most of all. But not Obama. The Little Father is ill advised, as they used to say in Russia in the days of the Czar.
    Steve, I realize that there are powerful reasons that you can’t place blame on the head of this administration, but being under no such constraints myself, here is the quote from the Post with Jennifer Rubin’s comments:
    Aside from the phalanx of Obama spinners who hoped for so much more from this president, the real fretters are congressional Democrats. The Post explains:
    “Another senior member of the House Democratic caucus put it more bluntly. “I don’t think the White House has listened to him enough,” said the member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss frustration with the White House. “There is this growing sense in the House that this White House is tone-deaf and doesn’t care about 2010, that it is sacrificing members for 2012 and that the president thinks he doesn’t need to get engaged, or that he thinks politics don’t matter and that he could care less about what is happening on the streets of our districts. That’s not Rahm.”
    “One early supporter of Obama, who has known Emanuel for years, did not give the chief of staff a pass. “The House members recruited by Rahm say to me, ‘He is supposed to know our needs; how come we are being cut off at the knees on so many issues?’ They don’t understand why Rahm is not being more aggressive.”
    Implicit is the realization that Obama is seriously out to lunch on the implications of his agenda and the impact his presidency is having on his fellow Democrats. It’s all well and good to play the Washington version of Kremlinology, but in the end no set of advisers can counteract a president bound and determined to do foolish things or lacking in some essential executive skills. As frustrating as the Emanuel vs. Axelrod and Emanuel vs. Obama conflicts may be for them, the Democrats’ real beef is with the president. And unless he undergoes some serious self-evaluation and makes a dramatic course correction, their problems will only intensify. And after November, they will likely have far fewer colleagues with whom to commiserate.


  29. WigWag says:

    Steve thinks its time for Rahm to go because according to Steve, Rahm’s been ineffective. That’s fine, it may even be true.
    But finding a new position for Rahm and replacing him with someone better suited to the job isn’t going to make Steve any happier. That’s because it’s not Rahm who disagrees with the positions Steve advocates on almost everything; it’s the President who thinks Steve’s positions are all wrong.
    The Afghanistan policy that our blogger extraordinaire objects to is the Presidents policy not the Chief of Staff’s policy. The decision to place the Israel-Palestine dispute on the back burner, the decision not to engage Hamas and the decision not to facilitate a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation; the President made the final call on those decisions, not Rahm.
    The attempt to dramatically ramp up pressure on Iran by forging an international consensus on sanctions was a tactic the President decided was the best approach not a tactic that anyone else in the White House forced on a reluctant President.
    An increasingly tough approach to the Chinese is the approach that the President thinks is most wise; a new Chief of Staff won’t change that either.
    And changing out the Chief of Staff won’t move the Obama Administration’s domestic policy in a direction that Steve prefers. Regardless of who occupies the Chief of Staff’s office, it’s still Larry Summers and Tim Geithner that Obama has faith in on economic matters and there’s no indication that either of them is going anywhere any time soon.
    It’s time for Steve to face the music. It’s not Rahm that Steve disagrees with, it’s Barack.
    Most of the policies Steve thinks are right, the President thinks are wrong.
    It’s as simple as that.


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