According to Rahm and his buddies over at the Washington Post, Obama is ailing in the polls because he didn’t ALWAYS listen to his Chief of Staff. The Post’s source blames Obama’s problems because he has “trust in principle”, where as he should really be focused on passing water-downed Centrist legislation that no one is found of, and actually pisses off BOTH sides of the electorate. But wait, isn’t that what’s happening? I’m confused. Dan Froomkin writes:
For Rahm, victory is everything — even if you have to give up your core values to win, and even if you could have won while sticking to them.
The Rahm Emanuel that Obama hired is the poster child for the timid, pseudo-pragmatism that is inimical to the idealistic Obama agenda so many excited voters responded to last November. And it’s a pragmatism that is absolutely killing the Democratic Party in the long run, because American voters have an intrinsic distrust of politicians they see as tacking with the polls or shying away from a fight. This if nothing else is the lesson of two George W. Bush presidencies: American voters have a profoundly soft spot for people with clear, strongly-held principles, almost regardless of what those principles are.
Emanuel is a Bush Democrat – but not in that he has learned the lesson about the value of holding firmly to core values. He is a Bush Democrat in that he has allowed Republicans to traumatize him into submission. Emanuel operates on a battlefield as defined by Republicans, where the terrain is littered with the specter of imaginary but profoundly terrifying GOP attack ads. His reflexive approach is the strategic retreat. Most obviously in the current debate about health care, he has empowered the Democratic and centrist Republican obstructionists by validating their fear that come campaign time, they will be portrayed as radical — even when they are supporting measures such as the public insurance option that have public support among a super-majority of voters.
According to the Washington Post, the ultimate “vindication” of Emanuel’s “reasonableness” is found in the advice he gave his boss about the treatment of detainees — one of the most horrifying, illegal and immoral legacies left by the previous administration. Milbank portrays his protagonist nothing short of heroically: “Emanuel bitterly opposed former White House counsel Greg Craig’s effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, arguing that it wasn’t politically feasible. Obama overruled Emanuel, the deadline wasn’t met, and Republicans pounced on the president and the Democrats for trying to bring terrorists to U.S. prisons. Likewise, Emanuel fought fiercely against Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to send Khalid Sheik Mohammed to New York for a trial. Emanuel lost, and the result was another political fiasco.”
According to Horowitz: “Emanuel made his case to Obama, articulating the political dangers of a civilian trial to congressional Democrats. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. presented a counterargument rooted in principle, for civilian trials.”
The obvious conclusion: Obama should have taken Emanuel’s advice, based on pure political calculation, rather than heeding the foolhardy, deeply-held ethical, legal and moral arguments made by his top legal advisers. The Post’s endorsement of this argument is nothing short of obscene. It embraces rather than condemns the notion that political considerations should legitimately trump all others. It is the Post’s endorsement of Karl Rovism..
Indeed, the most remarkable spectacle here is the ease with which Emanuel has been able to find reliable vessels to carry his water. Oh, to see his media speed-dial, and its collection of nattering process junkies, smug contrarians, split-the-difference stenographers, center-worshipping priests of High Broderism and corporatist cocktail-partiers who enable Emanuel’s brand of soulless political gamesmanship.
To Emanuel, victory is the only thing, and rather than recognize the error of his ways and recalibrate, he is publicly declaring that the now widely-recognized enfeeblement of his boss’s presidency is not his failure, but his vindication. Hail Emanuel triumphant.