As a follow-up to my previous post on Obama appointees I would invite you to take a critical look at this editorial from Mark Karlin. The very progressive (or liberal, as you like) editor of BuzzFlash describes his long, storied and occasionally dysfunctional relationship with Rahm Emanuel, providing us with an excellent insider perspective on what the new Chief of Staff will bring to Team Obama.
Karlin was no fan of the pick either, but as it turns out his reasons were pretty much the opposite of my own concerns. One of Mark’s greatest fears is that Rahm will be too centrist, in the mold of the old DLC and Bill Clinton’s centrist maneuvering. Make no mistake, Karlin judges Rahmbo (who once mailed a dead fish to a political opponent) to be highly partisan to the Democratic cause, but not far enough to the left. Personally, I would hope that the Chief of Staff would be flying the moderate flag for Obama, but the author sees this as a minus.
The one bright spot he sees regarding Emanuel, though, is what I personally find the most disturbing. The phrase “pit-bull” may not be leaving the next phase of American politics any time soon.
Emanuel may very well prove an effective choice in dealing with a Congress that is too often tied up in knots by the Republicans. Remember that Emanuel will be carrying out Obama’s policies, and Rahm won’t be bringing a steak knife to the fights ahead; he’ll be shooting a bazooka.
That may be unpalatable to a lot of progressives, but the last person you want dealing with the remainders of the rabid right wing is a Quaker (although, yes, we are great admirers of the Quaker outlook). You need some muscle to shake up Capitol Hill, someone to blow a few knee caps off.
Rahm Emanuel can do that, with glee and a glint in his eye.
For Obama to live up to his post-partisan campaign rhetoric, this seems exactly the wrong type of heavy handed approach when working with Republicans in their new minority role. Let’s hope that Karlin doesn’t prove prescient and that Obama can keep the bazookas locked up in the armory while Rahmbo is in the house.