Rahm Emanuel – the enforcer

Paul Krugman was always critical of Obama for not being more partisan.  We’ll see what happens.  In my ignorance I’m expecting Obama to be like Clinton – a pro when it comes to policy who hires the best advice he can get unlike Republicans who haven’t done that since – well perhaps someone can remind me. But I don’t expect him to be particularly bold.  But who knows. The thing that always struck me as ridiculous about Krugman’s critique is that being all post-partisan was a good way to build a coalatition and get into power. You find out how people are going to govern after they get into power – or hasn’t Krugman noticed.  FDR was elected on a platform of balancing the budget.  

And now we get to see how Obama governs.  And his first decision is to go for a hard man as a chief of staff – Obama plays the good cop and everyone is telling us that Rahm Emanuel gets to play the bad cop. I’ll be interested to see if Krugman has anything to say on this – I’ve not seen it yet. But it’s a first sign that Obama is under no illusions about how lovely the Republicans will be towards him.

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20 Responses to Rahm Emanuel – the enforcer

  1. Rafe Champion says:

    Yes, a nice parallel with FER, he promised to balance the books but instead launched the New Deal (more of the same things that Hoover did) and locked the US into depression for the rest of the decade.

    Obama has the opportunity to be the worst President on record if he persists with the kind of policies that delivered the sub-prime meltdown, or he can be the best on record by finding a way to reverse the process.

    Napoleon used to ask of prospective generals “Is he lucky?” How can you beat the luck of a man who got involved in pushing bad loans and then a few years later wins the White House because the other guys got the blame for the outcome?

    Interesting timeline on the process.

  2. Yes folks, follow the link. The people to blame.

    Carter and Clinton and they just wouldn’t listen to McCain who tried to stop the rot.

  3. denningesque says:

    American politics, at least its twentieth century manifestation, has a tradition of administrations recruiting from “across the aisle.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan served in the Johnston administration, then the Nixon administration and then became a US Senator for New York. They usually get the nod because they are both good and give the administration some feel of inclusion. Putting the best and the brightest into political positions has its own terrors. Politics is a skill many technocrats just don’t get or want to get. Apart from that ideology and party platform are not dirty words. Political parties come from different bases, beliefs and traditions. Some leaders can ignore their parties for a while or to some limited extent but they usually can’t do it across the board all the time. We are never going to live in a post political world. And while there is politics there is political parties and their ideologies, loyalties and demand for a seat at the table.

  4. Patrick says:

    My understanding of the Emanuel appointment is that Obama is confident that he can deal with the Republicans himself (perhaps justifiably, unless someone like Coburn can grow into a Newt Gringrich asap); Rahm Emanuel is there to deal with the real enemy – the ones that think Obama owes them one. Denningesque’s last sentence alludes to this, whether or not intentionally.

    As for your last sentence, Nick, maybe I am just overly-partisanly-sensitive but that struck me as a particularly bizarre sentence. What is the point? Do you mean that the Democrats were nice to Bush? Or did being ineffectual and incompetent make them nice? Or did you mean that they watched how the Democrats operated for the last 8 years and thought they’d better watch out unless the Republicans got in on the act?

  5. Patrick,

    None of the above. It is a sentence about how the Republicans might treat the Democrat President. Not sure why it need be read as implying anything much about how the Democrats treated Bush – or anyone else.

    That having been said, since you mention it, I can’t imagine the Democrats having the audacity to mount ad campaigns around bald faced lies – like the one about Obama advocating ‘sex education’ in pre-schools. Can you? (Don’t answer that – I’m sure you can – everything’s pretty much equivalent and everyone’s mean to each other right?).

    For better or worse, I buy Paul Krugman’s line that the US Republicans are a revolutionary party without any sense of the legitimacy of their opponents. I feel much more at ease with your own instincts for equivalence (unless you’re arguing for more than this) when applied to right leaning parties elsewhere – like in good old Oz.

  6. John Greenfield says:

    A black man appointing an Israeli Jew as his Chief of Staff? Now, THAT’s chutzpah. Won’t the Luvvies go nuts! :)

  7. Reminds me of a story my father told of his first interview with PM Gough Whitlam. Dad had been appointed consultant to the PM’s department (not, by the way the PM) and Whitlam mentioned his surname and said.

    “Hmm – Freudenberg, Spiegleman, Wilenski. I was rather hoping you were an Arab Fred”.

  8. John Greenfield says:

    Well this Rhambo dude sure sounds like he da man.

  9. Patrick says:

    It certainly does suggest that Obama is not going to give Palestinian lobby much joy.

    As for Nick’s question, yep, and so I won’t. But I will note that McCain’s concession speech was five (or fifty) notches above any Democrat’s concession speech I can remember (which is not that many!)

  10. Patrick,

    I had a great admiration for three things about McCain’s campaign.

    1) Decency may have been mixed with the presumed expediency of seeking to cool off some of the more psychotic things that had been stirred up about how Obama wasn’t ‘like us’.
    2) Mostly sticking to his word of not going after the Jeremiah Wright stuff. I’m not sure why, but it may have been a deliberate desire to avoid dog whistling racism.
    3) His concession speech which was one of the best.

    He redeemed himself, after a pretty ghastly campaign. I don’t have much of a feel for what he’s like. I’m not sure I like him, but you get swallowed up by the machine in doing what he was doing and some of the machine was pursuing business as usual sleeze. Sex education in kindergartens etc. McCain let a lot of that go through and promoted a fair bit of it himself – his campaign seemed mired in negativity. But like I said, there will always be a fair bit of business as usual, and those things I’ve enumerated will stick in my memory.

    He dealt himself into the good news of the election result – and I feel a heartfelt gratitude to him for that.

  11. melaleuca says:

    “Interesting timeline on the process.”

    Actually Rafe it’s an entirely dishonest take on what happened. Your comments and posts on this blog on the financial crisis show you are hopelessly out of your depth.

  12. Patrick says:

    I think that is a fair assessment really Nick – I personally wish that he could have run as the John McCain we all know, but I guess he got told that there wasn’t much market for that.

    And when he did, I guess voters just weren’t too impressed by all this fighting corruption in Washington stuff – much less inspiring than ‘change’, and, er, all that.

    A shame, it seems to me, but Obama certainly has the opportunity to be one of history’s great Presidents. I hope he takes it!

  13. melaleuca says:

    “A shame, it seems to me, but Obama certainly has the opportunity to be one of historys great Presidents. I hope he takes it!”

    Obama’s now responsible for two intractable wars, a dysfunctional health system, a financial crisis, a recession and a huge budget deficit. I’d call that a shit sandwich. He’ll have to perform miracles of biblical proportions if he is a to clean up this mess.

  14. The American Rebellion, the Civil War and the Depression were kind of shit sandwiches too. Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt did OK with them.

    Churchill did OK with the shit sandwich of WWII.

    Cometh the shit, cometh the sandwich!

  15. derrida derider says:

    Guys, Emanuel is Chief of Staff – not a policy job. The appointment may say something about Obama’s style as President, but nothing at all about his policy approaches. We’ll see those when he chooses the various Secretary positions.

    I think it’s a good choice. An enforcer is just what you need to run your office, because that way you can surround yourself with tough, ambitious people and stay confident that they’re working for you, not themselves (because you can slap them down when you need to).

  16. Patrick says:

    DD, I can’t see who you think hasn’t understood that?

    It certainly wouldn’t cheer you up if you were, say, an ardent free marketer and Ruddy appointed say, Kim Il-Carr chief of staff, would it? What would you rate your chances of timely access to Ruddy then?

  17. derrida derider says:

    Err, Patrick, I was responding to your stuff about Emanuel’s presumed Zionism. Plus Rafe’s first post.

  18. John Greenfield says:

    “Presumed” Zionsim? ROFLMAO. Dude, Rhambo makes Nancy Pelosi look like Al Sharpton or Jeremiah Wright or Margo Kingston, as does Barack “Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel” Obama. If you think Obama were not a rabid Zionist he would appoint an Israeli whose old man was an Irgun head-honcho, you either think Obama has zero political skills and/or I have a bridge to sell you.

  19. Patrick says:

    In which case, DD, whilst I appreciate your point and wouldn’t want to overstate mine, what do you think of my second point?

  20. Jack says:

    Hi re Gruen and his comments…I suggest a reading of the USS Liberty will inform you better of the American inveigling with the crimes of humanity by “Israel” …formed by the Reich from 1934 onwards was a friend to the Reich and offered a plan to rout the British in the middle east. Few more rotten and corrupt communities have existed in history. Admiral McCain’s treacherous connivance with them however…forget his idiot so called ‘held in captivity son’ …was a prt of the rotten US Government that continued from Abraham Lincoln (a Jew who’s wife drove herself to drugs over his blatant infidelity) right through the GF Bush How any place could have Rafe Emanuel,the screw-loose son of probably the worst jewish terrorist and who organised the King david Hotel bombing in the white house or anywhere else than under strict observation exemplifies the khazar Zionist financier, capital banker,congress and media control of USA. Rafe served his military in Israel though born in USA!) ) .That one fact is enough to ring alarm bells when it comes to ‘rat alarm’ in the US powerbroker paradise,..

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