Friday, November 7, 2008
Rahm Emanuel: Partisan White House or Strategic Move?
Political partisanship is the conventional wisdom of appointing Rep. Rahm Emanuel to Chief of Staff. Perhaps, but it may also show the political savvy of President-elect Obama. Sure he sent a dead fish to a democratic pollster and his elbows are as sharp as anyone in Washington, but does this sound like the type of man the President-elect would like to have to go through to enact his agenda?
Presidential agendas, even with their own party controlling congress, are not typically synchronized-witness the Clinton presidency up to 1994 and you get my drift. By appointing the Chicago congressman, the President-elect removes a potential source of resistance and gets a highly effective advocate in return. Emanuel will also bring discipline and stability to the White House, an important lesson learned by President Clinton and used to great effect by the Current Resident. In addition, he knows how to navigate congress, presumably what Senator Schumer (D-NY) meant by "He is the perfect choice. He knows the Hill, he knows substance, he knows politics, and most importantly, he can get the job done."
Republicans should also take hope. Senator Graham (R-SC) said "Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills; he can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together." Like an attack dog on a leash, President-elect Obama will be able to use Rep. Emanuel to enforce party unity while he crosses the aisle in the name of bi-partisanship.
Of course the mainstream media loves a controversy (and so will I if someone ever pays me to write this drivel), so the story is about how the President-elect is reneging on his promise of bi-partisanship after only two days. Speaking ironically (I assume) Republican partisan John Boehner (R-OH) called the appointment an "ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil and govern from the center." But I think that’s just hot wind escaping from the congressman’s pie hole.
I think the media does not give the President-elect enough credit in appointing Rep. Emanuel as Chief of Staff. I believe it shows great instincts and political savvy, and a large measure of self confidence. As the saying goes “keep your friends close, and a guy who sends dead, rotting fish even closer.”