Rahm Emanuel May Be a Great Attack Dog, But He's A Rotten Chief of Staff

| March 8, 2009 | 4 Replies

If even half of this is true, then we’re in serious trouble until our President gets on the stick.

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama’s inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to “even fake an interest in foreign policy”.

Here’s the thing. He has access to anyone he wants, just by picking up the phone and asking for help. He could have dialed up anyone from the Bush administration who have handled dozens of visits from foreign dignitaries. Heck, he could have found someone from the Clinton administration, plenty of whom work for him now, who could have told him the same thing. Not one single diplomatic gaffe we’ve seen had to happen.

But I’m not going to lay any of this on Barack Obama. He’s never been here before. He’s never in his life held a position of moderate responsibility much less the responsibility of being a chief executive. He’s never held a job that’s anything like the one he has now. I can hardly blame him for making a series of rookie mistakes. He’s a rookie. That’s what rookies do.

I’m laying this on Rahm Emanuel, because he has been there.


Emanuel spent five years in the Clinton White House. He knows how busy it can be. He knows how important it is for a President to have a Chief of Staff who can block downfield for his boss. He reportedly choreographed the entire Oslo Peace Accord signing ceremony, so he knows what’s required for a state visit.

In any other administration, the Chief of Staff would be doing the legwork necessary to make his boss look good. He would have people running around trying to find out what gifts would be appropriate to the almost-blind Prime Minister of one of our closest allies or making sure they got the right Russian word on a button that’s not quite so big and red.

Not Rahmbo, though. He spends his days on the phone with his BFFs Carville, Begala, and Stephacalifragilisticexpialidocious figuring out how to run the next smear campaign against some pesky talk show host. Before that, he was covering his ass lest someone ask him uncomfortable questions about his living arrangements, his dealings with Rod Blagojevich, or the time he spent running Fannie Mae while it was choking down subprime mortgages like a Japanese kid gobbles up Nathans Famous hot dogs. He’s been doing everything but the job the President desperately needs him to do.

If the President’s name were Bill Clinton, we’d all point at him and laugh, but we don’t have time for Amateur Hour. If Rahmbo can’t get his head in the game and act like a Chief of Staff, the President should throw him out and find somebody who will. I’m sure there are plenty of people who have served in the last four administrations (Heck, Leon Panetta’s his CIA Director) who can whip Obama’s team into shape.

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Category: Alliances and Allies, Political Pontifications, President Barack Obama

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