Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rahm Emanuel as WH Chief of Staff

I like it very much. The only downside is that Emanuel is seen as a partisan by Republicans but, seriously, they didn't expect Obama to appoint Rick Davis as his Chief of Staff, did they? The Republicans have ALREADY made a misstep in my opinion by immediately faxing out a response from John Boehner saying that this choice was "ironic" and suggesting (according to NBC) that "the war is on." The correct answer, for those scoring at home, was for Boehner to say that House Republicans look forward to seeking common ground, etc. I am kind of amazed that Republicans have not yet seemed to get the message that their "take no prisoners" attitude to politics is one of the reasons they are a smaller minority today than they were a few days ago.

The upsides of having Emanuel as WH Chief of Staff are many. He is an insider who both knows how the White House works (at its best and at its worst) and he understands Capitol Hill well and has very close friends in the House leadership. On a more general level, this appointment says something about Obama that I think is surprising to some but is a very, very important and good sign. Obama is more of a conventional politician than most assume. He is someone who likes to surround himself with wise and experienced people who know how to get things done. He is someone who learned from Bill Clinton's experience in 1993. Clinton, you may recall, appointed a friend from Kindergarten (Mack McLarty - I'm not kidding) as his Chief of Staff and his legislative agenda suffered in those first months. Obama understands the need to hit the ground running and he understands that getting things done will not be a matter of showing up in DC and "conquering" the city with his soaring oratory. That oratory will help to move public opinion but he will pursue an insider strategy as well. This is a very strong first decision and sends a very positive signal that Obama understands well that this is about getting things done.

As Martin Saiz pointed out to me yesterday, the big loser here is Stephen Colbert who had his "Better Know a District" segment singlehandedly killed by Emanuel when Emanuel told Democratic House members not to do the interviews.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're not quitting now that the election is over... hopefully you will keep this up for some time...