March 2nd, 2010

Advancing the “Emanuel the reasonable” meme

This WaPO piece is another in a series of recent articles about how Rahm Emanuel is the only voice of practicality, incremental change, and reason in the Obama White House (I wrote about an earlier piece here).

I’m not at all sure why this particular meme is being pushed right now. Anger of the press at the other members of Obama’s Gang of Four (Gibbs, Jarrett, and Axelrod)? I doubt it’s love for Emanuel, who seems universally disliked for abrasiveness. But whatever the reason—and I invite you all to do the requisite Machiavellian speculation—I happen to think that the gist of it is the truth—although probably not the whole truth and nothing but.

Consdier that Emanuel has by far the most national and legislative experience of anyone in Obama’s inner circle, and that includes the president himself. Say what you will about Rahm, but he was actually a member of the House of Representatives from 2003-2009. He also served as a strategist in the Bill Clinton White House from 1993-1998, an administration ultimately known for a more incremental, poll-driven approach to policy and governing. Later, as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he helped craft the Democrats’ congressional comeback of 2006. After that he was even considered for the post of Majority Whip.

Compare this experience to that of David Axelrod, whose entire background is in journalism, media, and campaign communication and organization. Or to Robert Gibbs, likewise, and Valerie Jarrett, a lawyer whose previous experience was limited to local Chicago politics as an aide to Mayors Washington and then Daley, and Chicago business.

These three are not just Obama’s consultants on campaigning; they appear to be his main advisors on nearly everything. I’m not surprised that they have given Obama poor advice, and that his agenda has been hampered as a result, or that he failed to listen to the cannier Emanuel. I have come to see Obama as a committed “progressive” socialist ideologue as well as a man who only listens to his inner Chicago circle of old and trusted advisers, to which Emanuel is a relative newcomer.

[ADDENDUM: Here’s more.]

31 Responses to “Advancing the “Emanuel the reasonable” meme”

  1. Jim Sullivan Says:

    I look at it like this:

    On the Dark Overlord/Supervillain Continuum, Rahm Emanuel is closer to the Ernst Stavro Blofeld/Professor Moriarty end of the spectrum than the Emperor Palpatine/Sauron end. Possibly somewhere between Insurance Actuary and Ming the Merciless.

    Seriously, though it might be nit-picking, I’d substitute the word competent for reasonable and then add that he is only more competent than the others.

  2. SAB Says:

    Could it be that he has come to the startling realization that he is surrounded by far more unsavory characters than himself (if that is possible) and he is trying to salvage some shred of redemption before the ship sinks.

  3. Perfected democrat Says:

    Isn’t Rahm the “house Jew” whose presence provides a facade of credibility and loyalty to Israel, and keeps the largely American liberal Jewish voters loyal to the Democratic Party?

  4. Steve G Says:

    The Obama bus is slowing down and Emanuel’s friends in the media (and most likely in the more staid recesses of the Democrat party) are pointing out that might be safe now (and certainly more reasonably excusable) for him to jump off.

    We have been exploring all manner of ideas over the last few years in order to figure out who this guy Obama is and what drives him. We have learned to our chagrin that he has the extraordinary ability do the most inane and damaging things for which he seems not to concern himself. He seems oblivious about retaining the trappings of power but is not adverse to using them for his personal benefit. And, he never ceases to amaze. One buffoonish decision is followed by another even more inane. Our enemies no longer fear us and our “friends” (well, they used to be friends) don’t believe that we will support them. For whatever reason, Obama is returning us to the isolationism of the 1930’s.

    Well, it seems that he traditional doyens of the Democrat party are just as bewildered as we conservatives. They were celebrating what they truly believed was the onset of 40 years of continuous Democrat ascendency and watched it frittered away foolishly by an incoherent incompetent in less than one year. Are they concerned that Obama is also taking them for a ride? Is Obama any more a Democrat than a conservative is a Republican, or does that identity fit him just for the present? As Rush asks, who is the red queen?

    I would say that I was very concerned by the very fascist overtones of Obam and his minions at the onset of his presidency. But, his ability to garner personal adulation has disappeared incrementally with every speech and so, I think, so have my concerns for the country. We have instead to deal with rank incompetence and tone deafness.

    One thing is clear, the world will look a lot differently in 3 years than when he took office last year, and it will not be for the better. He is making the world less safe.

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    On FOX News Sunday this past week, the panel discussed this subject.

    The consensus was that Emanuel was in favor of pushing an aggressive, politically ambitious agenda through Congress, of “not letting a crises go to waste”. Emanuel does have all the legislative experience and Obama’s other closest advisors deferred to him on pragmatic tactics to pass Obama’s legislative agenda.

    Emanuel greatly underestimated the infighting within the democrats ranks when they believed that they could now achieve all that they desired. It was a mad scramble for the political trough of pork and payoffs. That is why Emanuel erupted with his condemnation of liberals at their meeting with him, he’s frustrated that they all put their special-interest agenda before the broader agenda of the party.

    Now that it’s all falling apart, someone has to take the fall, the ‘long knives’ are out and it’s a bit of every man for himself.

    The consensus on the panel was that Emanuel ‘planted’ these stories by speaking to influential friends with contacts in the media who then spoke to the ‘journalists’ who wrote the pieces.

    Emanuel is protecting himself from the charge of incompetence because among Obama’s gang of four, his closest advisers, he’s the guy who was supposed to get all this legislation through Congress.

    He thought he was herding a bunch of cows to pasture, he discovered he was trying to herd a ‘clowder’ of cats, who selfishly headed in every direction.

    He’s discovered just how loosely the conglomeration of special interests that compose the Democrat Party are when the pigs trough is before them.

    And it couldn’t have happened to a ‘nicer’ guy…:-)

  6. Perfected democrat Says:

    “Is Obama any more a Democrat than a conservative is a Republican, or does that identity fit him just for the present?”

    Surveying especially his associations, in addition to his origins and childhood inculcation, it seemed obvious from the beginning that Obama is a moslem-communist (operative) posing as a Christian-Democrat; well exemplified by his lack of hesitancy to bring someone like Van Jones into the domain of the White House, and what it represents to the world.

  7. Cyndy Says:

    This media view of Emanuel as a voice of “practicality, incremental change, and reason” is pure fantasy. Nobody in that White House would have ever been hired with such a brief. As Geoffrey points out, Rahm was the big proponent of what he thought was a clever strategy of going for the big stuff while in crisis.

  8. Opus #6 Says:

    When I saw this piece yesterday I assumed that Emmanuel had his own people get out there and break this story. There is SO much inside information about White House inner doings. Kind of like Bush’s team jumped ship before his turn was over, Obama’s people need to start doing some sort of damage control over his failed administration. Not a pretty sight. But I guess there are only just so many life rafts out of Washington at a time like this and Emmanuel wants to exempt himself from the tar and feathers solution.

  9. SteveH Says:

    If i ever become President somebody kick my ass if i appoint my beer drinking buddies to make major policy decisions. One person barely able to run their own lives is enough!

  10. Range of Light Says:

    I trust Rahm as far as I can throw a Killer Whale. The other high quality folks around the ever trust worthy Obama, I trust half that far.

  11. Liz Says:

    I agree with Opus. I don’t believe what the lefty cult members say, that he’s the whole reason Obama is failing and breaking all his promises. However, I do think he’s spreading this information – I can’t say how directly – to distance himself from the more horrific actions of his boss.

  12. csimon Says:

    “He seems oblivious about retaining the trappings of power…”

    I can’t agree there. Obama has historically used whatever means necessary to attain power and he has wielded it it rather autocratically as well as somewhat ostentatiously for my taste, demonstrated his affection for the perks that go with. I agree he is a complete far left idealogue with an imperious and unparalled determination to remake our country in his own image. The fact that neither historically nor presently have the people of this country expressed the desire to be the socialistic nation he envisions does not bother him in the least. His Presidential campaign was chiefly obfuscation for his intended agenda and illustrates his belief that any means justifies the ends. It has occurred to me, however, in during the last year, and moreso in most recent months, that Obama’s ego is as much tied into his politics as is his ideology. Particularly with healthcare, I think that for him, it’s become an “us against them” mentality and the need to “win,” whatever the cost is paramount. The President’s behavior at last Thursday’s “Healthcare Summit,” revealed to me an indignant, if not rageful attitude toward those who dare attempt to stymie his goals. It appears to me that it is as personal to him as it is ideological. His oft-repeated reminders that “[he] won” and that people voted for HIM seems to me indication that he confuses the personal with the duties of the job of President.

    As for his core staff comprised of Axelrod, Jarrett and Emanuel, I think each in their own way are attached to power as much as ideology. Axelrod is an admitted ideologue but I believe he revels in the power that he now has. His forté is manipulation of opinion and is essential to the group’s access to power as well as maintaining it once acquired. Jarrett seems likewise drawn to power and is somewhat the cheerleader of the group — if you will, the P.R. face with a much more direct and authoratative voice, than, say, a Robert Gibbs. (That Gibbs is in so tight with this core I continue to find remarkable because it does not seem to me that he is even close to their league in terms of intelligence.) Emanual, I agree, is the competent one with hard experience and familiarity with what they must do as a practical matter to achieve their goals. I don’t know if he is looking to separate himself as he watches the increasingly tin ear to the public and the rapidly growing shift in public opinion, or if he is losing influence with the other as they seem to increasingly blindly pursue their agenda, public opinion be damned. I wonder if his practical advice and experience isn’t becoming annoying to Obama, Axelrod and Jarrett who might be finding it a growing impediment to their ambitions one they don’t want to deal with.

    I agree with Steve G. that early on Emanuel also represented “the house Jew” (though I shudder using that descriptor) which was their effort to align Jewish voters with Obama and obscure his actual intentions toward Israel and the Middle East. Though Axelrod is also Jewish (but then again, so is George Soros!) his more public family were vocal in their support of Israel — even while Rahm was more inscrutable. In fact, in addition to African-Americans (and it seems to me, a significant number of those, like Obama, of mixed heritage who identify as black), there is a large population of Jews on the Obama team. As a Jew who grew up in Southern Florida in a large Jewish community that is Democratic — more the result of heritage than very left-wing conviction, I am surprised at the number of Jews in the White House who have remained loyal to Obama in view of his clear antipathy toward Israel and his continued (not to mention his apologies to the Arab world) courting of her enemies, occasional soothing rhetoric notwithstanding. (It may go back to that seductive power thing) It is my experience that though there is a large population of Jews who maintain significant liberal views, particularly socially, based upon the historical persecution of Jews and the subsequent empathy with those who have been perceived to have been treated wrongly. The large Jewish support for Civil Rights in the 60’s is a prime example). however, my experience has been that the high population of Jews who have remained Democrats is more attributable to a longtime alignment with the Democratic Party and group think — i.e. Jews achieving safety and security by means of strength in numbers as opposed to far left convictions.

  13. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    I recall from Machiavelli’s The Prince that the best gauge of The Prince’s own abilities was to look at the people with whom he surrounds himself. Mediocrity attracts mediocre people, weak princes attract weak courtiers…
    Makes you wonder, eh?

  14. betsybounds Says:

    Good Ole Charlie,

    No, it doesn’t make me wonder. It persuades me.

  15. pablo panadero Says:

    Let me point out the obvious: Hillary is mere window dressing in this administration. Hillary has ambitions to be President. Hillary will not allow herself to be dragged down by her association with Obama.

    If you think the wheels are coming off the bus now, just wait until Hillary exits (she will force Obama to fire her) and she takes with her the 15% hard-core fans who will turn on Obama with a vengeance that will make the left’s assault on GWB look like a fight between Playboy bunnies.

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I suspect that the large Jewish contingent within the administration and even among the electorate who support Obama are loyal to the idea of Israel but fully accept the premise that Israel, through its ‘intransigence’ is eliciting a reaction from the Palestinians.

    They believe that Israeli ‘hard-liners’ have historically led and even now, lead Israel astray. They are liberal and appeasement minded and all of their support for Israel rests upon that foundation.

  17. NeoConScum Says:

    Range of Light…Me too. Nine Killer Whales!

  18. Tim P Says:

    “I’m not at all sure why this particular meme is being pushed right now.”

    If he was truely ‘practical’ and no-nonsense, would he be serving in this administration of bufoons? Sure, he was gung ho when Obama’s approval was in the stratosphere, but now? Not so much…

    The rat is preparing to leave the sinking ship and is trying to salvage what he can of his reputation. People like Emmanuel make only one calculation and that calculation is based solely upon the degree to which it is self serving.

  19. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    Surely you know of FDR’s hatchet man, Jim Farley.

    Or perhaps you don’t…

    Anyway, Farley had this advice to a person caught in a political squeeze play: “When on a sinking ship, follow the rats.”

    Emmanuel and Hillary will find their ways to the first class life boat, while Obama will be left isolated on the ship’s bridge.

    And so it goes…

  20. John Says:

    “I have come to see Obama as a committed “progressive” socialist ideologue,,,,,”

    It’s a little off subject but this piece from the NY Times seems to indicate that, don’t you think?

    March 2, 2010, 6:35 pm
    Fuel Taxes Must Rise, Harvard Researchers Say

    To meet the Obama administration’s targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon.

    To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving must simply increase, according to a forthcoming report by researchers at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

    The 14 percent target was set in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget for fiscal 2010.

    In their study, the researchers devised several combinations of steps that United States policymakers might take in trying to address the heat-trapping emissions by the nation’s transportation sector, which consume 70 percent of the oil used in the United States.

    Most of their models assumed an economy-wide carbon dioxide tax starting at $30 a ton in 2010 and escalating to $60 a ton in 2030. In some cases researchers also factored in tax credits for electric and hybrid vehicles, taxes on fuel or both.

    In the modeling, it turned out that issuing tax credits could backfire, while taxes on fuel proved beneficial.

    “Tax credits don’t address how much people use their cars,” said Ross Morrow, one of the report’s authors. “In reverse, they can make people drive more.”

    Dr. Morrow, formerly a fellow at the Belfer Center, is a professor of mechanical engineering and economics at Iowa State University

    Researchers said that vehicle miles traveled will increase by more than 30 percent between 2010 and 2030 unless policymakers increase fuel taxes.

    What will gas at $7 a gallon do to this economy? All in the name of global warming.

  21. Bob From Virginia Says:

    # Perfected democrat Says:

    “Isn’t Rahm the “house Jew” whose presence provides a facade of credibility and loyalty to Israel, and keeps the largely American liberal Jewish voters loyal to the Democratic Party?”

    I’m sure he served that function to a certain extent, but Jews, along with the rest of the electorate behaved like a child who sees a toy in the window and wants it even after being reassured that it will break as soon as he gets it home. The whole 2008 election was easily the most immature and silly in my lifetime.
    I just heard Gov. Romney give a name to our generation, the Worse Generation. I could add the most Immature Generation, maybe Spoiled Brat Generation. The Jewish vote represents the national malaise.
    Some good news though, Jewish support has fallen from 78% to 49%. Still stinks but shows some signs of brain activity.

  22. Bob From Virginia Says:

    This is interesting, from Rubin Reports
    “The other astounding result is the size of the Republican-Democrat gap on Israel. While 80 percent of Republicans are favorable (to Israel), only 53 percent of Democrats are. Democrats are twice as likely to like the Palestinian Authority. In comparison, 64 percent of Democrats like Egypt, a repressive dictatorship despite its moderate foreign policy, and 56 percent like Russia.”

    This explains an awful lot about the current state of the Democrat Party. They are largely a left-wing fascist party.

  23. Vieux Charles Says:

    Flash back over a year ago when George Stephanopoulos railed against Dick Morris when Morris claimed Emanuel leaked Clinton’s plans for some kind of focus group.

    Looks like Morris is now vindicated.

  24. Tom Says:

    Never mind the Jewish stuff.
    Reconciliation is coming. The Dems are using the rules against us, just as Alinsky taught. The Dark Night is descending upon us even as we abide by the rules. Which we will long regret.

  25. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    John asks, “What will gas at $7 a gallon do to this economy? All in the name of global warming.”

    $4/gallon will put us back into another deep recession. $7/gallon means depression. Of course none of those chrome domes at Harvard have any inkling about how energy costs affect the economy. It all makes perfect sense to them because reduction of fossil fuel use is all they care about. When few can scrape up the bucks to attend the Hahvahd Yahd, maybe they will get the idea. Oh yeah, I forgot. Obama is going to make college free for everybody. No harm for them in $7 gas.

  26. jon baker Says:

    If the dems raise the taxes on Gasoline- they are likely to blame the gas companies for the prices, then try to use that as an excuse to nationalize them—–can they be that stupid?

  27. rickl Says:

    Off topic:

    Don’t look now, but Democrats try to pack the courts.

    A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the proposed Federal Judgeship Act of 2009 (S. 1653), which would create positions for 63 new federal judges – 51 in federal district courts and 12 in appeals courts. This proposal is nothing less than a sneaky equivalent of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried with his infamous court-packing power grab on the Supreme Court in 1937. The only slight difference is that this attempt is more under the radar.

    The Supreme Court has been choosing to consider fewer cases each year. This means the lower courts provide the final disposition for a larger percentage of controversies than ever before. Packing those courts with new, loyal liberals can thus have a huge effect on legal issues without the high profile – and public backlash – of unpopular Supreme Court decisions and fringe appointments to the high court.

  28. rickl Says:

    Where the hell does the government get off trying to force us to drive less?

    This is an order of magnitude worse than the Stamp Act.

  29. expat Says:

    This Team of Rivals deserves a couple of sets of duelling pistols.

  30. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Expat wrote “This Team of Rivals deserves a couple of sets of duelling pistols.”

    Better yet UZIs.

  31. SAB Says:

    “What will gas at $7 a gallon do to this economy? All in the name of global warming”

    John: It will do just what it did when it reached $4.00 per gallon. People stop buying anything that is not a necessity. Food prices skyrocket. Stores go out of business. Manufacturers cut back. People lose jobs.

    When gas hit $4.00 per gallon that is what triggered the whole economic downturn that we are suffering through right now, IMHO.

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