By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Emanuel’s forced Hamlet act

Am I missing something? Or has the vaunted Obama team suffered a breakdown in discipline regarding U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who’s been offered the job of White House chief of staff? Why is Emanuel publicly pondering whether to take it or not? What does this do to the eventual chief of staff if Emanuel turns it down?

I know there’s a lot of speculation out there about many of the positions President-elect Obama will be filling, including the possibility that John Kerry will be given the secretary of state’s job. But the way the Emanuel appointment is being handled is clunky, to say the least. If he turns it down, whoever winds up in the job will be seen as second-rate.

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  1. Bill Baar

    RE would really have Pelosi’s job. He can’t turn it down though…The suspense is to test if Obama supporters will recall RE’s words here,In January 2005, when asked by Meet the Press’s Tim Russert whether he would have voted to authorize the war-“knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction”-Emanuel answered yes. (He didn’t take office until after the vote.) “I still believe that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do, okay?” he added.My guess is few will recall.

  2. mike_b1

    Bill, you got that quote from that “Book of Rahm” bit that’s floating around the Web. I have never been able to find that quote — or more importantly, it’s context — anywhere else. You have another source for it?For all we know, Russert asked him, “Is the world better off without Saddam?”

  3. Bill Baar

    It’s in Nina Easton’s column. It’s old and too my knowledge RE’s never renounced it.Illinois Review is reporting on RE’s property taxes too…… RE is another Karl Rove (but worse) to many Illinois Progressives. I haven’t checked their reactions yet but right now everyone in Illinois is rejoicing at the profit taking to come… so minds may change.Asked what she expected an Obama presidency to mean to her West Side ward, Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) replied, “One word: money. You’re supposed to take care of home first, aren’t you?”The “Bill” referred to in the Illinoize link as potential replacement for Obama is likely Blagojevich’s designated blogger…maybe the Gov himself. You need to appreciate that to see people respond to him as the Gov’s guy…

  4. Bill Baar

    Here’s the transcript… like I said, the delay is to see if Progressives can overlook this stuff…. there is more…REP. EMANUEL: You can make–you could have made a case that Saddam Hussein was a threat, and what you could have done also, Tim, is worked with other countries, go through the U.N., take the time to do it. Again, the problems with our troops and the country today faces in Iraq isn’t about whether we should or should not have gone to war, whether we should or should not have removed Saddam Hussein, it’s how they have pursued this war, the lack of planning, the lack of processing, thinking about there was no plan, as you know, for after we removed Saddam Hussein, what would you do. There was no plan for–as you know, before war, you had to have an exit strategy. One has not even been annunciated. There’s been a presumption that we were going to be greeted as liberators. There was a presumption this would be quick and easy, and then we can turn the country over. None of that has been laid out, and that has to do with the competency and the planning that goes in, and they did not have a plan for the day after “hostilities ended.”MR. RUSSERT: This is the way Democrats are talking in 2005. But back when they were voting for the war, and three-fourths of both houses of Congress voted to authorize the president to go to war, as a candidate you said you would. And in March of 2003, Congressman Emanuel, your tone was strikingly different. This is what you said.”I had the fortunate experience of serving in the White House; I knew firsthand what a solitary and difficult decision it is for a President to send our Armed Forces into harm’s way. I will remember some of the members of this body, in the midst of conflict, attacking the President–the commander-in-chief– even even as he worked day-and-night to complete that mission and bring our servicemen and women home safely. It was wrong then. It would be wrong now. I, for one, will not do that to our President … to our commander-in-chief. I want him to succeed. We should all want him to succeed. So as long as our troops [are] engaged, we should suspend the debate over how and why, focus on the mission, unite as a country, in prayer and resolve, hope for a speedy resolution of this war with a minimum of loss. God bless America.”That’s far different than what you’re saying today, criticizing the president.

  5. O'Reilly

    I think most people are focused on whether Rahmbo is a good choice or not for CoS. To your point, If he turns it down, Obama will HAVE to choose a prominent person most people would agree would be a good choice.

  6. Bill Baar

    Rahm is the guy I would want. I used to see him at Wash Nat…always working the blackberry… but by 2005 I was in no mood to shake his hand… …but for keeping Pelosi and Reid off my back, I’d pick Rahm.

  7. Don, American

    John Kerry (“who served in Vietnam”) as Secretary of State? Oh. . . my. . . gawd!

  8. Sean Roche

    Emanuel has accepted the position, so the point is moot. But, how would the second-choice have felt? I’m guessing the way most people feel when they are not the first choice for a job that they want anyway: thrilled. When the job is the Chief of Staff to the U.S. President: thrilled and honored.By the way, maybe it wasn’t such a strategic blunder to go public with the invitation. How could Emanuel have refused?I note the irony that Emanuel is also from Chicago and that his choice is inspiring the inevitable “fellow Chicagoan” construction. This is so far from an example of keeping the small-market team together to hit the big time (cf. Clinton and McLarty). The choice of Emmanuel signals — to me anyway — that Obama is serious about governing by getting legislation passed. He’s picked a guy who knows how congress works and is a player. I wish Emanuel were more of a progressive, but I love that he’s an operator.

  9. Dunwich

    I’m already tired of analysts pushing for a weak chief-of-staff and GOP cabinet members. Dianne Sawyer actually asked Stephanopolous about the possibilities of a Republican Sec.of Defense,State,Treasury? While Gates might make some sense –briefly– the other suggestions are offensive.

  10. mike_b1

    Nice advertisement, thelaw26. I hope you are paying Media Nation for the privilege.

  11. Neil

    Oh nuts the motivational guru comment is gone. I wanted to buy me one of those “Visualize Whirled Peas” bumperstickers off the guy….Timothy Noah at Slate talks about who not to appoint, which includes Kerry because, “nobody likes him”. Which Noah zanily enough thinks isn’t good for a diplomat. Whereas Scot Lehigh in the Globe thinks it would be a good idea because of his “deep expertise in international issues and a long relationship with pivotal Middle Eastern leaders”. Plus, he’s “internationally known”. Which doesn’t strike me as a compelling reason. I’m with Noah on this and would add that Kerry’s prolonged waffle on Iraq didn’t help.

  12. Bill Baar

    I note the irony that Emanuel is also from Chicago…We don’t want nobody nobody sent, is the way we put it in Chicago.Except more from Chicago. Wait and see if Obama’s mentor Emil Jones is selected to replace Obama as Senator.

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