David Kirkpatrick

November 5, 2008

Emanuel offered Chief of Staff

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:22 am

Obama’s first move as president-elect is to offer White House Chief of Staff to Rahm Emanuel. Not quite sure what I think about the move, but here’s two separate takes from the right.

From Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish:

That’s some chief of staff. I think even Rahm’s friends will acknowledge that he is as abrasive as Obama is smooth, and, well, he knows who to be a total asshole when he has to be. But that’s often what you want in a chief of staff: an enforcer. Marc has more on the transition.

And here’s Yuval Levin at the Corner:

Obama’s apparent selectionof Rahm Emanuel for White House chief of staff is an extremely disconcerting (if not wholly surprising) first indication on the “which Obama will we get” question. It suggests both that he wants to be ruthless and partisan and that he does not have a clear sense of how the White House works.

Emanuel was by all accounts a very effective White House staffer in the Clinton administration, and he has certainly been an effective member of the House of Representatives. He is smart and tough. But he has been, in both positions, a vicious graceless partisan: narrow, hectic, unremittingly aggressive, vulgar, and impatient. Those who have worked for and with him come away impressed but not inspired, and generally not loyal.

Given the entire timbre of the Corner these days — insane partisanship and simpering fealty to absolutely any GOP talking point — Levin comes off as a bit frightened of the Emanuel choice, and more than a bit frightened of Obama.

Overall on the right Obama has been characterized as an Elvis Presley type. Elvis was considered a white man who could sing like a black man. Obama has been seen as a black politician who could win the White House like a white polician.

Take this bit from Levin (same link above):

Obama is especially in need of someone who will lead him to decisions, because he appears to be intensely averse to making difficult choices—which is the essence of what the president does. His inclination is to step back and conceptualize the choice out of existence, looking reasonable but doing nothing.

The problem with that attitude from the right is I think they forget Elvis could sing.