Archive for the ‘Rahm Emanuel’ Category

Obama Promised ‘Change’ But All Picks So Far Are Democrat Insiders, Not New

November 20, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama promised the voters change but has started his Cabinet selection process by naming several Washington insiders to top posts.

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer
Obama is enlisting former Senate leader Tom Daschle as his health secretary. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a well-known Washington personality, seemed more likely than ever to be his secretary of state. Clinton is deciding whether to take that post as America’s top diplomat, her associates said Wednesday

Obama is ready to announce that his attorney general will be Eric Holder, the Justice Department’s No. 2 when Clinton’s husband was president. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, is another veteran of the Clinton White House.

Daschle’s selection to head the Health and Human Services Department — confirmed Wednesday but not yet announced — isn’t at the same level of Cabinet prestige as the top spots at the State and Justice departments. But the health post could be more important in an Obama administration than in some others, making Daschle a key player in helping steer the president-elect’s promised health care reforms.

Daschle could push Obama for quick action on health care reform next year, if he follows his own advice.

In this April 22, 2008 file photo, former Senate Majority Leader ... 
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, left, followed by current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democratic officials say Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File )

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Presidential Honeymoon? Will Economy, Congress, Foreign Leaders Give Obama Time?

November 18, 2008

The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, before settling down at home.”

First of all, who are the parties on the honeymoon? Is it the president and the public, the president and the opposition party, the president and Congress? Is the media supposed to be on the honeymoon? And in what capacity? Are they reporting on the developments of the honeymoon like paparazzi, or are they participants? Is it ethical for journalists to be sweetly “relating” to a politician, or should they stay at arm’s length – so to speak? Are we all on the honeymoon together, and is it voluntary or mandatory? I have been on only one honeymoon – with my wife 24 years ago last week. It was very much voluntary, and I didn’t need to fake my tender love and devotion.

But whether as an opinion journalist or as a member of the opposition party, my attitude towards the president-elect is utterly dissimilar to what I experienced on my real honeymoon. I didn’t chose him, I don’t trust him (if he knows of me he doubtlessly reciprocates such sentiments), and I don’t look forward to a long relationship with him.

By Tony Blankley
The Washington Times

What we all are really doing right now is biding our time. After all, when President-elect Obama hired Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff it was not for the purpose of fluffing the pillows on Mr. Obama’s and our matrimonial bed. To Mr. Emanuel, a pillow is more likely to be used for suffocating an enemy (figuratively, of course) than putting him at ease.

The only part of the metaphor I can relate to is the bit about “comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane.” By my calculation, that means that the honeymoon will be over by December 4th. In fact, already, my positive passions are feeling rather “wane.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary the early references to the political honeymoon metaphor start in 1655 (Fuller): “Kingdoms have their honeymoon, when new Princes are married unto them”; 1795 (Burke) “Spain, in the honey-moon of her new servitude”; and 1867 (Goldwin, Smith) “The brief honeymoon of the new king and his parliament.” In each of those early examples, the circumstances of the honeymoon are mandatory, begrudging and short. I think Burke’s best catches the moment (“the honey-moon of her servitude”).

It is curious how the sexual metaphor – with all its ambiguities – is often used in politics.

For example, British conservative Benjamin Disraeli criticized Prime Minister Robert Peel for reversing his position on free trade in the following passage: “There is no doubt a difference in the right honorable gentleman’s demeanor as leader of the Opposition and as Minister of the Crown. But that’s the old story: you must not contrast too strongly the hours of courtship with the years of possession. I remember him making his protection speeches. They were the best speeches I ever heard. It was a great thing to hear the right honorable gentleman say: ‘I would sooner be the leader of the gentlemen of England than possess the confidence of Sovereigns.’ We don’t hear much of the “gentlemen of England” now.

But what of that? They have the pleasures of memory – the charms of reminiscences. They were his first love, and though he may not kneel to them now as in the hour of passion, still they can recall the past; and nothing is more useless or unwise than these scenes of crimination and reproach, for we know that in all these cases, when the beloved object has ceased to charm, it is in vain to appeal to the feelings.” That’s how I feel about President-elect Obama’s sweet honeymoon words of passionate bipartisanship. I don’t expect the sentiment to last past the first tussle. Even now I feel the cold stare of calculation in his eyes.

Actually, I prefer the metaphor of a president’s first hundred days in office, which derives from the approximately hundred days starting in March 1815 when Napoleon escaped from the Island of Elba and fought his way to Waterloo in Belgium, where The Duke of Wellington defeated him, after which Napoleon was replaced as leader of France by Louis XVIII in July.

Napoléon abdiquant à Fontainebleau (“Napoléon abdicated in Fontainebleau”) by Paul Delaroche, 1845, The Royal Collection, London. Oil-on-canvas.

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Obama White House Potential Tinder Box

November 8, 2008

We all wish Barack Obama well.  We hope and pray for the future of America.  As my Dad used to say, “Whatever happens in America, whoever we elect, the Republic will survive.”

My Dad lived through great crises and achievements in America: sleeping in the U.S. Capitol building on December 7, 1941 following the devestating attack on Pearl Harbor that day.

Barack Obama’s White House, which in some ways started on election day and some say started even before that, will legally begin upon the swearing in of Vice President Joe Biden and Barack Obama himself as President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

Barack Obama’s White House has every potential to become a tinderbox of controversey, missteps and overreaching.  Here’s why:

-Hubris:  There have been many jokes, cartoons and other side remarks about “Barack the Messiah.”  The loftly language of Candidate Obama, Senator Obama, Professor Obama and now President Elect Obama lends itself to what I’ll call “uplift;” or a sense of loftiness.  It also lends itself to self-importance and ridicule.  President Obama, while being careful and measured and lofty might just end up sounding not presidential but sanctimonious.  This will be devestating on the world stage already filled with bufoons like Hugo Chavez and Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran.  And just as Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi referred to Barack Obama’s great “tan” and the world media seemed to say “there he goes again,” Mr. Obama’s now highly admired lofty tone can become the fodder for comedians overnight, if he isn’t careful.

President-elect Senator Barack Obama gives his victory speech ...
Above: President-elect Barack Obama

Gaffes:  Joe Biden has a well earned reputation as a gaffe machine.  But Team Obam has had him on a tight leash and nailed to a teleprompter.  But that can’t last.  Before long, the media will be saying, in all liklihood, “Say it isn’t so, Joe.”  And Vice President Biden won’t be the only one to make a gaffe, if history is any guide.  Remember Ronald reagan caught off-mike before a news confernce saying someing about bombing the Soviet Union?  Oops. 

Vice President-elect Joe Biden listens as President-elect Obama ...
Vice President-elect Joe Biden listens as President-elect Obama answers questions during a news conference in Chicago, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Everone has their slip ups.  Witness Barack Obama trying to make some fun during his first press conference by referring to Nancy Reagan and her “seances.”  Say it isn’t so, Barack.  You just got your facts wrong in what conservatives see as an attack on a dead “sainted” conservative president’s wife who is elderly and ill.  Not funny, Barack (Obama phoned Mrs. Reagan to say he was sorry).

Partisanship:  Our advice: Put America first and be bi-partisan in all things.  That’s patriotic.  If you just want to be a realist: keep your enemies close so you can watch them, Barack.  That’s what Abraham Lincoln said and did.  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  Lincoln filled his cabinet and his kitchen cabinet with the opposition: he had a civil war to win.  The result was emancipation and union.  I fear, after the selection of Rahm Emanuel, who Paul Begala said was partisan “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache,” we could wind up with not “snakes on a plane” but “vipers in the White House.”  We hope the new White House denizens can reach out in good will and not to throttle others by the neck.  Won’t work.

White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel listens during ... 
White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel listens during a news conference by President-elect Obama in Chicago, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

So, not to rain on anyone’s parade, as a veteran of Washington some many years, I thought I’d raise the flag of caution and good will — which usually serve those in power much better than “Sherman though Atlanta.”

Sherman would have loved Rahm Emanuel.  And Obama picked him.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Rahm Emanuel Pick Indicates “Obama is No More Mr. Nice Guy”

November 6, 2008

Barack Obama is signaling a shift in tactics and temperament as he moves from candidate to president-elect, picking sharp-elbowed Washington insiders for top posts.

His choice Thursday for White House chief of staffRahm Emanuel, a fiery partisan who doesn’t mind breaking glass and hurting feelings — is a significant departure from the soft-spoken, low-key aides that “No-Drama Obama” has surrounded himself with during his campaign. And transition chief John Podesta, like Emanuel, is a former top aide to Bill Clinton and a tough partisan infighter, though less bombastic than the new chief of staff.

By LIZ SIDOTI and NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

The selections are telling for Obama, who campaigned as a nontraditional, almost “post-partisan” newcomer. People close to him say the selections show that Obama is aware of his weaknesses as well as his strengths and knows what he needs to be successful as he shifts from campaigning to governing.

“No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel,” Obama said in a statement announcing the selection.

Obama, who survived a long contest with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, also has made it clear he will rely heavily on veterans of her husband’s eight-year administration, the only Democratic presidency in the past 28 years. Podesta was President Clinton‘s chief of staff, and several other former Clinton aides are on Obama’s short lists for key jobs, Democratic officials say. Some of them helped write a large briefing book on how to govern, assembled under Podesta’s supervision.

Obama himself brims with self-confidence, to the point that some people view him as arrogant. But to a greater degree than many presidents, he appears willing to lean on Washington insiders associated with other politicians.

Still, he is also certain to bring to the White House a cadre of longtime aides.

Emanuel accepted Obama’s offer with a gesture of bipartisanship, addressing part of his statement to Republicans. “We often disagree, but I respect their motives,” Emanuel said. “Now is a time for unity, and, Mr. President-elect, I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose.”

That would come as news to some Republicans.

In contrast to Obama’s collegial style and that of his top campaign advisers, Emanuel is known as a foul-mouthed practitioner of brass-knuckled politics who relishes both conflict and publicity. He once mailed a dead fish to a political foe.

But he also earned a reputation for pragmatic efficiency, whether the goal was winning House elections for Democrats or working with Republicans to enact Clinton’s centrist political agenda.

“Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “He can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together.”

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Is Rahm Emanuel Too Harsh for Peaceful Dealings with Congress?

November 6, 2008

Called an “intense political operative,” “too fiercely partisan,” and “Rahmbo,” Rahm Emanuel is no pushover for anyone.  His selection as White House Chief of Staff indicates that President Elect Obama will fight hard, work to win at everything and take no prisoners (and probably make few new friends….).

Emmanuel “shouts viciously and profainly into the phone, even to friends,” says NPR….

Hear a report from NPR:


While President-elect Barack Obama enjoyed a few days with his family after a hard-fought election, speculation swirled in the nation’s capital around potential administration appointees.

Obama pivoted quickly to begin filling out his team on Wednesday, selecting hard-charging Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff while aides stepped up the pace of transition work that had been cloaked in pre-election secrecy.

Several Democrats confirmed that Emanuel had been offered the job. While it was not clear he had accepted, a rejection would amount to an unlikely public snub of the president-elect within hours of an Electoral College landslide.

Obama has promised to hold a news conference later in the week. As president-elect, he begins receiving highly classified briefings from top intelligence officials Thursday.

In offering the post of White House chief of staff to Emanuel, Obama turned to a fellow Chicago politician with a far different style from his own, a man known for his bluntness as well as his single-minded determination.

Emanuel was a political and policy aide in Bill Clinton’s White House. Leaving that, he turned to investment banking, then won a Chicago-area House seat six years ago. In Congress, he moved quickly into the leadership. As chairman of the Democratic campaign committee in 2006, he played an instrumental role in restoring his party to power after 12 years in the minority.

Emanuel maintained neutrality during the long primary battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, not surprising given his long-standing ties to the former first lady and his Illinois connections with Obama.

The day after the election there already was jockeying for Cabinet appointments.

Several Democrats said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who won a new six-year term on Tuesday, was angling for secretary of state. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss any private conversations.

Kerry’s spokeswoman, Brigid O’Rourke, disputed the reports. “It’s not true. It’s ridiculous….

In this  June 6, 2008,, file photo Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., ...
In this June 6, 2008,, file photo Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., left, talks with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., at a Chicago 2016 Olympic rally at Daley Center Plaza in Chicago. Obama’s campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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Obama Offers Rahm Emanuel Job of White House Chief of Staff

November 5, 2008

ABC News has learned that President-elect Obama has offered the White House chief of staff job to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.

Emanuel, a knowledgeable source tells ABC News, has not yet given his answer. The sharp-tongued, sharp-elbowed, keenly intelligent veteran of the Clinton White House is said to have ambitions to some day be Speaker of the House. But he also has a keen sense of “duty.”

In this June 6, 2008, file photo Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., ...
In this June 6, 2008, file photo Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., left, huddles with then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. in Chicago. President-elect Barack Obama chose Emanual to be his White House chief of staff, his first selection for the new administration, Democratic officials said Wednesday.(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Today on “Good Morning America” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reported Obama likes the fact that Emanuel “knows policy, knows politics, knows Capitol Hill” and has told associates that Emanuel would “have his back.”

There is a tentative plan to announce Obama’s chief of staff this week.

By Jake Tapper, ABC News

Obama approaches lawmaker about White House Chief of Staff post

October 31, 2008

Talk about measuring the White House drapes before the election….word comes that Barack Obama has already “approached” someone to be his White House Chief of Staff…

By DAVID ESPO and BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama‘s campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday as the marathon presidential race entered its final, frenzied stretch with a Democratic tilt.

In this  June 6, 2008,, file photo Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., ... 
In this June 6, 2008,, file photo Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., left, talks with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., at a Chicago 2016 Olympic rally at Daley Center Plaza in Chicago. Obama’s campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The disclosure came as Republican John McCain, in need of a comeback, focused on pocketbook issues amid fresh signs of a recession. “Ohio is hurting now, people in Ohio are having trouble staying in their homes, keeping their jobs,” he said as he set out on a two-day bus tour of the state.

“We have got to get this economy out of the ditch.”

Obama, bidding to become the first black president, also pointed to the government’s report that the economy had declined in the third quarter. He told a large crowd in Florida that McCain has been perched “right next to George Bush” for eight years, and consumers are paying a steep price for their partnership.

The Democrats who described the Obama campaign‘s approach to Emanuel spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to be quoted by name. An aide to the congressman, Sarah Feinberg, said in an e-mail that he “has not been contacted to take a job in an administration that does not yet exist. Everyone is focused on Election Day, as they should be.”

Asked about Emanuel after touching down in Colombia, Mo., on Thursday night, Obama said only: “I’m trying to win an election.” Then, referring to campaign manager David Plouffe, he said: “Plouffe is my chief of staff.”

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton earlier had said: “There’s no news because there’s no job to offer.”

Emanuel is a veteran of President Clinton’s White House, and has made a rapid ascent of the House leadership ladder since his election to Congress. He was chairman of the Democratic campaign committee two years ago when the party won a majority for the first time in more than a decade, and he cemented his reputation as a prodigious fundraiser and strong-willed political strategist.

Both Obama and McCain have authorized their staffs to begin transition operations in recent weeks — although only one of them will be able to make use of the results. As far as is known, no job offers have been made by either man.

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