Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poor Rahm Emanuel: Misunderstood, Ignored, and Handsome

The New Republic has joined the Washington Post's Rahm Emanuel lovefest. Noam Scheiber's article portrays Emanuel with greater complexity than Dana Milbank and Ezra Klein. Ultimately, however, Scheiber describes Emanuel favorably as a skillful, crude -- yet handsome -- dude:

At 50, Emanuel has the lean, taut look of a lifelong swimmer, with broad shoulders and distractingly prominent quadriceps. But at the heart of the Emanuel mystique is the family patois, which lurches between pronounced curtness and vivid, sometimes scatological, imagery. Emanuel will casually toss off quips like, “You’re in the bowels of nothin,’ man.” One former colleague recalls making two or three requests during a sensitive negotiation, only to have Emanuel respond: “Well, I guess if I can take care of Bill Clinton’s blow jobs, I can take care of that.”

And then there are the f-bombs, which Emanuel reels off like a verbal tic, sometimes embedding them in other words with Germanic aplomb. There is, for example, “Fucknutsville” (his pet name for Washington) and “knucklefuck” (an honorific bestowed on Republican opponents). In administration meetings, Emanuel will occasionally announce, “I think it’s fucking idiotic, but it’s your call.” (That would be Rahm-speak for: “You have more expertise than I do on this subject.”) He’s even been known to use the imprecation as a term of endearment, as when he signs off friendly phone calls: “Fuck you. See you later. I love you.” As Phil Kellam, one of Emanuel’s star recruits from the 2006 election cycle, recently joked to me, “If you could sum up Rahm Emanuel, it would be: big ideas, big mouth, big heart, little finger” (Emanuel lost half his middle finger in a teenage accident.) (emphasis added).
These public displays of Emanuel-affection are becoming too much.

Scheiber also portrays Emanuel as the smart yet ignored Chief of Staff. In doing so, Scheiber comes closer than any of the other Emanuel-lovers to blame Obama for his shortcomings:

[T]he enormity of the challenges Barack Obama faces, and the ambitiousness of his program, mean he has almost no margin for error. Indeed, Emanuel--the grizzled, battle-hardened Washington insider--was brought into the Obama White House for precisely this reason, because Obama was shrewd enough to recognize the chasm between campaigning and governing, and that what works in one domain can be debilitating in the other. Put simply, Emanuel is the chief of staff most presidents turn to when they realize their first chief of staff has failed them. To hire Rahm is to skip right to Leon Panetta without first enduring Mack McLarty.

But what we’re discovering is that Obama wasn’t prepared to give up on his campaign ideals so quickly. Deep down, he didn’t necessarily want a hard-nosed insider to execute his agenda; maybe he just wanted to want such a person. For all of his flaws, Rahm Emanuel was supposed to be the man who helped Barack Obama do things the easy way rather than learn lessons the hard way. But, sometimes, deciding to go the easy way can be the hardest thing of all (emphasis added).
Emanuel continues to cast his spell.

See also on Dissenting Justice:

Update: White House Responds to Washington Post's Adoration of Rahm Emanuel

OK, We Get It: The Washington Post "Hearts" Rahm Emanuel!.


Anonymous said...

LMAO! Unbelievable. Wonder what's really going on? Is this Emanuel's swan song? Is he in that much deep doo-doo that he unleashes all this shameless PR via his "journalistic" surrogates?

This lovefest is unseemly at best, and destructive at worst -- to Obama. What kind of a chief of staff would support the story that he is smarter than his boss and that his boss should listen to him if he knows what's good for him?

This is obscene. And wrong -- for Emanuel, for Obama, and for the country.

Thank goodness he's so handsome, though. That's at least his one redeeming feature.

BTW, distractingly prominent quadriceps...? Distracting to whom?

LMAO yet again.

liberal dissent said...

I think a lot of it might be the frustration on the part of some (but not all) liberals for the fact that issues and ideology aside, on a pure political level the left is constantly outmaneuvered politically, again and again. While I can understand the left's frustration with Emanuel, I have little doubt his strongest critics would want to see him replaced with someone who would be an ideologically pure pushover.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: I think the distracting quads was my favorite line of all!!! "To whom," indeed....Apparently, to Scheiber.

LD: I do not want an ideological pushover at all! Take Pelosi. I had serious doubts about her (and I still criticize her). But she's no pushover, and she is more liberal than most. It is possible to be liberal and firm -- and a dealmaker.

LETICIA said...

Was this guy writing a serious article? Or is this a preview of a romance novel starring Rahm Emmanuel?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Leticia: I do not want to psychoanalyze!

Aspasia said...

I think Letitia probably has the right of it. I'm expecting the next article to accompany with a picture of Rahm's Oxford shirt flapping in the wind and his "sultry eyes" staring out at us.

Anyhoodle, I think losing part of one of his middle fingers as a teen should've been taken as a sign to not do that so much. Or speak its wordy equivalent.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Sultry eyes.....You had better send that idea to EJ Dionne.

Anonymous said...

Bromance's in the air!

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