Kremlinology Begins at Home

Richard Fernandez puzzles over a piece in the Telegraph that predicts Rahm Emanuel’s departure from the White House. He engages in analysis worthy of Kremlinologists at their best, and translates:

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is expected to leave his job later this year after growing tired of the ‘idealism’ of Barack Obama’s inner circle.

His abrasive style has rubbed some people the wrong way, while there has been frustration among Mr Obama’s closest advisers that he failed to deliver a smooth ride for the president’s legislative programme that his background promised.

“It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant, who asked not to be named. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform.

“Democrats have not stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”

Mr Emanuel has reportedly told friends that his role as White House chief of staff was “only an eighteen month job” because of its intensity.

Regarded as the most demanding after president, it involves controlling the president’s agenda, enforcing White House message discipline as well as liaising with Congress.

His departure would regarded as another sign of how Mr Obama’s presidency has been far more troubled than expected.

Mr Emanuel has privately expressed a readiness to run for mayor of Chicago, which is also his home town though he was never part of the Obama set and did not endorse the then senator in the Democratic primary in 2008.

That would however depend on Mayor Richard Daley stepping down when he is up for re-election in 2011.

The chief obstacle to taking the White House job originally was doubts about moving his three children from Chicago. According to another former Clinton official, he has let friends know that he is “very sensitive to the idea that he is not a good father for having done this.


Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is threatening to leave his job later this year unless Barack Obama gets real. Rahm has made a lot of personal sacrifices to join the White House. He gave up being a congressman, Chicago deep dish pizza and being a father to his children for what? To be blamed as abrasive when the midterm disaster unfolds. No way he’s taking the fall for that. But just to show the boss he’s not scared, not a rat — not until the last moment anyway — he’ll stay until the midterm disaster makes it absolutely clear that all his warnings about futzing around have come true. And just in case you think Emanuel is yellow, remember that’s he willing to take on Richard Daley. And think on this. When all you inner circlers are walking the streets in DC rattling pencil cups and looking for a job, Rahm’s going to be mayor of the Windy City.

I like this sentence in the Telegraph story the best:

His departure would regarded as another sign of how Mr Obama’s presidency has been far more troubled than expected.

Expected by whom? Obviously not people like Peggy Noonan, Mort Zuckerman, Ann Althouse, Megan McArdle, and others. But what could they have been thinking? Bill Quick lets them have it:

Listen up, you punked, chumped boobs: We looked at Obama not through your rose colored hallucinations, but through the cold, clear spectacles of reality. None of what he’s done since has surprised us one bit. In fact, many of us, myself included, predicted it even before his coronation by people like you. Yes, it’s nice that after a year and a half of horrible examples, the truth about him is finally beginning to penetrate your skulls. But why, for the love of god, couldn’t you see it at the beginning, when it was no less obvious, but your understanding of it might have done some good?

Hear, hear. All of the above used to be on my reading list, but aren’t any longer. They expected competence? My decade as an academic department chair gave me more managerial experience than Barack Obama, but I didn’t remotely consider myself qualified for the Presidency. A commenter writes,

Washington and New York, Hmmm, Maybe they should see the rest of the country. Some of us in flyover country would not hire a person with no resume.

Maybe they expected pragmatism and a focus on results? From the man with the most left-wing voting record in the Senate, a guy to the left of socialist Bernie Sanders? A guy who seemed to produce no results at all at the Annenberg Foundation? A guy all of whose friends were, well, way out there?

Maybe they expected fiscal sanity? As if Democrats had ever before been known to favor less spending than Republicans? As if Obama didn’t campaign on things that would obviously swell the deficit?

Another commenter nails it:

I remember discussing this with my liberal friends (Yes I have some), Sarah Palin, who had more executive experience than the other three candidates combined was not qualified to be VP but Obungler, who had no managerial experience at all was qualified to be president. Cognitive dissonance.

2 thoughts on “Kremlinology Begins at Home

  1. Philo, you are a wise man. I’m re-reading Apology for about the 7th time (doing a paper, don’t you know) so I see Socrates everywhere-
    “Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.”
    Of course, he said this after talking to a politician.

    Doesn’t is seem weird to blame Rahm for the “failure” of the president’s legislative agenda? What- taking over 1/6th of the economy wasn’t enough? Rahm is Chief of staff, not the Majority Whip. What kind of miracles was Rahm supposed to have worked after Porkulus and Obamacare and “Financial Reform?” I mean, Considering you have the Messiah as President and Mephistopheles as Speaker, isn’t the knee-capper-in-chief position a little superfluous?

  2. That’s a good point. Maybe the thing that surprises me most about all this is that evidently they thought the transformation of the United States into a fundamentally different kind of country was going to be *easy*. More on that soon.

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