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.”These public displays of Emanuel-affection are becoming too much.
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).
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.Emanuel continues to cast his spell.
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).
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!.