Friday, 7 November 2008


God, it feels AMAZING to be in love with politics has been so long. You can take a girl out of Washington, but you can't take Washington out of the girl.

The new president-elect is a calm, collected, deliberate, introspective man. He is a man of vision, who can paint the long-term in pictures that few other politicians of our generation can.

He has just hired Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic Congressman and former senior advisor to the Clinton administration whose personal style is...just a wee bit different. From Steve Hendrix and Michael Shear of CBS News:

It was another October midnight on Capitol Hill and the $700 billion economic bailout deal was flat-lining. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had the president's chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, on speakerphone and was getting nowhere on the final few sticking points. Next to her, Rahm Emanuel decided it was time to exercise one of his core political principles: When in doubt, shout.

"You gotta understand, Josh, this is politics at this point," thundered Emanuel, the Democrats' caucus chairman. In one of his signature high-decibel blasts, he described the relentless procedural torture Pelosi could inflict if the administration didn't yield. "That," he yelled, "will be like a fast football at your head coming down Pennsylvania Avenue!"

Within minutes, the White House bowed to the Democrats' demand, and by 12:30 a.m. Emanuel, 48, was settled in next to a statue of Will Rogers as Pelosi announced the deal.

And another Rahm bomb had found its mark.

To quote Paul Begala, an ex-colleague:

“He’s got this big old pair of brass balls, and you can just hear ‘em clanking when he walks down the halls of Congress.”

So, maybe just a little bit different from our president-elect, then.

Rahm is partisan, tough,
pragmatic and gets down to brass tacks - he prefers to take change in small steps, not large leaps.

On paper, this should be a marriage made in hell.

But as so many of those in arranged marriages have discovered, on paper means about as much as a promise from Dick Cheney.

The indefinable chemistry of relationships is often best spotted in photographs, like those below:

It just WORKS. The president and his CoS need to be tighter than God and the Pope. Again from CBS:

According to two previous inhabitants of the office next door to the Oval Office, Emanuel's key asset as chief of staff will be his well-established friendship with his new boss. That probably will be enough to compensate for the political brush fires sparked by Emanuel's flint-and-steel personality.

"The job is to tell the president what he needs to know, not necessarily what he wants to know," said Kenneth Duberstein, who served as Ronald Reagan's chief of staff. "Because of his relationship with the president-elect, Rahm will be able to deliver not just the good news but the tough news as well. He has the ability to be a reality therapist inside the White House."

Mack McLarty, Clinton's first chief of staff, who has known Emanuel since the "War Room" days of the 1992 presidential campaign, agreed.

"My sense is that they have a relationship that is authentic and that will give them an important level of trust," McLarty said. "Given that, I think the strength of his high-energy personality will serve him well."

I love the phrase 'reality therapist'. Every visionary needs one, and every person in a position of power needs someone to tell it like it is. Perhaps, most of all, someone in power who promised to listen to us especially when we are critical.

I also love the fact that Emanuel agonised over taking his family out of Chicago, where all their closest friends are. A pitbull with heart and the occasional soft touch. Perfect.

On a lighter note, to quote Ari:

Doesn't hurt that they're probably the hottest president/chief of staff duo in all of history, either...


A man with vision and one who can make it reality - let the change begin.

20 January can't come soon enough.

1 comment:

Ariel said...

I don't think I've ever been quoted on your blog before!

It's interesting, isn't it, that when two people are a study in contrast, sometimes they clash and sometimes they complement each other? Emanuel and Obama clearly complement each other, in all sorts of ways. I also love how the choice of Emanuel makes Obama's team even more diverse - but as a total side effect rather than cold calculation.

(And I love that a former ballet dancer is going to be one of the most powerful political figures in our country, but I'm biased.)