The Further Limits Of Rahmism

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 9, 2010


I see that a great many people are discussing this profile of Rahm Emanuel by Peter Baker. As profiles go, it is a good one. But a central point emerging from the profile needs to be emphasized.

That central point is as follows: The Cossacks work for the Czar. If you like Rahm Emanuel’s work, you will generally approve of the work that Barack Obama is doing. If you don’t like his work, by contrast, then you shouldn’t like the work that Rahm Emanuel is doing. Enough with the pretensions that Emanuel is hijacking the Obama Presidency, or doing things that are counter to the President’s wishes, or that Obama fans and fans-in-waiting would just like Barack Obama more if he got rid of Rahm Emanuel.

As Baker himself puts it:

Emanuel occupies a unique niche in Obama’s White House. He makes up the rules of the game that others are supposed to follow, and he gets away with what others cannot. Emanuel seems to serve as a virtual prime minister, the most powerful chief of staff since James Baker managed the White House during Ronald Reagan’s first term. Baker was also an experienced, savvy operator who took the arrows for his boss. Just as Emanuel is often criticized by the left for steering Obama toward the middle, Baker was considered a moderate who tempered Reagan’s more conservative instincts. “Let Reagan be Reagan” was the cri de coeur against Baker. “Let Obama be Obama” is the thrust of the liberal critique of Emanuel. What that fundamentally misses, of course, is that Reagan and Obama chose their chiefs of staff to serve exactly the roles they did.

If you have a problem with Rahm Emanuel, you have a problem with Barack Obama. There is no getting around it, and people should stop trying to separate those issues.

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