Reason Writers Around Town: Dave Weigel on Obama's Future Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

In the first installment in a week-long L.A. Times dust-up with Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Associate Editor David Weigel examines Barack Obama's selection of former Clinton official Rahm Emanuel for evidence of a "new tone" in Washington.

Read their exchange here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Mad Max||

    The article mentions filibusters (and not in a hopeful way, either - they seem to think a solid Democrap bloc could pick enough Repugnican votes to stop a filibuster against an Obama judicial nomination or an Employee Secret Ballot Abolition Act.

    But we don't know - a filibuster at least means a *chance* to oppose this sort of thing.

    When the "conservative movement" wanted to abolish the filibuster (supposedly for judicial nominations only - yeah, right!), I was persuaded by a memo from the Gun Owners of America that the filibuster was an essential safeguard against bad policies (I couldn't find GOA's original memo, but here is a brief summary of their points). Thanks folks like the good people at GOA, the neocon-hijacked "conservative movement" was not able to abolish this essential safeguard. This means that there's a fighting chance in the Senate against some of the worst abuses.

  • ||

    On that exchange, even Weigel writes too many nice things about Emanuel. The guy is a certified loon - we will see how much ass-kissing Obama went through to get that guy in his cabinet.

    I am going to make a prediction: Anti-war Democrats will be ready to rationalize and excuse Obama's choice for a Secretary of State by making use of pragmatic fallacies.

  • Mad Max||

    Oh, and credit where it is due - McCain defended the filibuster, although not for the right reasons, of course. That wouldn't have been mavericky enough.

  • Syd Henderson||

    Francisco Torres | November 10, 2008, 6:07pm | #
    On that exchange, even Weigel writes too many nice things about Emanuel. The guy is a certified loon - we will see how much ass-kissing Obama went through to get that guy in his cabinet.


    The Chief of Staff isn't a member of the cabinet.

  • Geotpf||

    I think the Chief of Staff's job is an enforcer, a whip, somebody to get everybody on the same page. For that, Emanuel is a perfect choice.

  • ||

    Hmm ... let's see if Michelle's choice of curtain color symbolizes "change", or if the Obamas were full of shit and really just wanted to move out of Chicago. While we're at it, why don't we rip into whatever the Obama's choice of puppy breed is, when it happens, and analyse what that means with regard to his positions on Guantanamo. Or better yet, let's see what kind of car they drive, and then compare that to past Presidents' choices and see what we can figure out about what this means for "hope" in the new administration.

    Or, why don't we simply wait until the guy takes office, as he will certainly be doing, and discover what his policies and practices will be when he has some authority? This premature musing about what kind of asshole Obama will turn into is bullshit.

  • Lefiti||

    New tone? C'mon, it's the government. Be consitent!

  • Lefiti||

    "Obama is going to enjoy a political honeymoon comparable to the first six months of Ronald Reagan's administration."

    Okay, so Obama is the first black president. Did Reagan get a long honeymoon as the first deeply stupid president?

  • matt||

    Hmm ... let's see if Michelle's choice of curtain color symbolizes "change", or if the Obamas were full of shit and really just wanted to move out of Chicago. While we're at it, why don't we rip into whatever the Obama's choice of puppy breed is, when it happens, and analyse what that means with regard to his positions on Guantanamo. Or better yet, let's see what kind of car they drive, and then compare that to past Presidents' choices and see what we can figure out about what this means for "hope" in the new administration.

    Way to rip the GOP shills at Reason a new one, bro. All those people who say the Chief of Staff position is the second most powerful in DC clearly don't know as much as you.

  • Lefiti||

    Come on! Pay attention to me! Lick me! Lookit me! I'm dancing! I'm spinning! Watching me spinning!

  • zoltan||

    But neither John, TallDave or Guy Montag have posted on this thread yet!

  • ||

    So, matt, you agree that it's worthwhile parsing the Chief of Staff appointment for indications of "change"?

  • Seward||

    James Butler,

    This premature musing about what kind of asshole Obama will turn into is bullshit.

    So, are you suggesting that we should wait to find out what sort of asshole he will be? :)

  • ||

    Yeah, Emanual's for a new tone all right.

    Tone this, asshole.

  • ||

    I do. Putting someone who has foreign loyalties in that position is incredibly naive, especially given our own sensitive position in the Middle East.

  • Freeper||

    But everyone knows Obama is a secret Muslim so this choice of the Zionist and dual Israeli/US citizen Emanuel is a perfect cover for him.

  • ||

    The new tone is the legendary "brown note".

  • MJ||

    "This premature musing about what kind of asshole Obama will turn into is bullshit."

    Obama's already an asshole, the question is to what extent.

  • ||

    Chief of Staff, while powerful, isn't a policy position. It's an administrative position.

    When Bill Clinton first came into office, his adminstration was a like a clown car.

    There isn't going any clown car with Rahm running the White House staff. That's what this pick says.

    BTW, interesting line about Obama, as the first black president, getting honeymoon. What does it mean that a remarkable, groundbreaking Democratic presidential victory gets the type of honeymoon that is normal when a Republican wins?

  • BDB||

    I don't think GWB really got a honeymoon due to the Florida recount mess.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Presidential honeymoon periods are not party specific.

  • zoltan||

    BDB:

    GWB's honeymoon was postponed to September 12, 2001.

  • Seward||

    zoltan,

    Then it was over within a few months of the attacks.

  • BDB||

    "zoltan | November 10, 2008, 9:15pm | #
    BDB:

    GWB's honeymoon was postponed to September 12, 2001."

    Touche.

  • BDB||

    No, I'd say GWB had a honeymoon from 9/12 until (pick one) his Social Security gambit or Terry Schivo. Then it was ripped to shreds by Katrina.

  • zoltan||

    Yes, Seward, I believe brevity is one of the key factors in the definition of honeymoon. No worries, though, he got a second one about 15 months later when everyone supported his quest for Middle East democracy. I mean his crusade against a dictator's access to nuclear and biochemical weapons. I mean his attempt to stabilize...oh, you get what I mean.

  • bill||

    How can there be a "new tone" when this guy and half the others on staff are old Clinton cronies? Obama runs on a "change" platform and then hires the same people that caused the present financial problem.

  • Kolohe||

    Bush's honeymoon ended with the capture of Saddam; more precisely a few months later when it appeared that it had no effect on the violence.

  • zoltan||

    Bill, I think we've established Obama as 'here comes the new president, same as the old president.' It's now just for us to compile lists to see whether he can 1)spend more than Bush and prior presidents, 2)infringe on our civil liberties more than Bush and prior presidents. Those are some big shoes to fill, considering he's walking in Clinton's and Bush's footsteps.

  • Kolohe||

    BTW, Mr Weigel good response; I agree that the premise of the LA Times question was faulty and a different question should be answered.

  • Seward||

    zoltan,

    Well, I guess Clinton got another honeymoon following the Lewinsky deal.

  • zoltan||

    But Kolohe, certainly it was the liberal media who turned the tide against such a beloved president?

  • BDB||

    Lewisnky was a honeymoon?

    I think he had high approval ratings both before AND after.

  • Kolohe||

    zoltan-
    I believe it's spelled "librul"

    Seriously, if the Iraq thing would have worked, Bush would be leaving with a high reputation and a republican successor. (but ironically probably not McCain). But it didn't and so he's not.
    (n.b. to avoid any confusion, this is a descriptive not normative statement)

  • BDB||

    Speaking of Lewisnky, if Clinton had kept his pants zipped, Al Gore would be finishing up his second term.

  • Seward||

    Kolohe,

    Basically all they needed was a semi-decent after occupation plan.

  • Kolohe||

    Basically all they needed was a semi-decent after occupation plan.

    A necessary but not sufficient condition, I'd say. And like most big gambles, it required a *really* decent plan; they had no plan at all, but even a half-assed one I think would have made little difference.

  • Kolohe||

    Although a basic strategy of "fill all power vacuums, spontaneous order may not be your ally" may have been enough.

  • Orange Line Special||

    I didn't bother reading it because - let's face it - CAP and Weigel/Reason are basically on the same side.

    There's more on CAP here: infowars.com/?p=5850

    There's more on Rahm elsewhere on that site.

    Note that I named CAP as one of the reasons on my list of twenty non-partisan reasons to oppose Obama.

  • ||

    Half of LoneWacko's 20 reasons are legitimate.

  • ||

    There isn't going any clown car with Rahm running the White House staff. That's what this pick says.

    See? What did I tell you? Did not have to wait long . . .

  • ||

    Francisco - Damn, son. you should take that show on the road (or to Wall Street).

    FWIW, predicting so-called liberals bending over backwards to justify anything The One does wasn't THAT tough to do.

  • ||

    Why are two people who voted for Obama arguing?

    Even weirder why are a libertarian and a lefty arguing in the LA Times?

    Did Matt have more impact there then he is letting on?

  • ||

    The filibuster is an American institution, one of the most important "checks and balances" in the US political systems. Ronald Reagan was deeply stupid? I don't think so but if the left wants to believe that, by all means carry on!

  • ||

    More of the same is change we can believe in.

  • ||

    Not only is the filibuster rule sensible, no legislation should pass without at least 67% supermajority, for otherwise the laws will be widely disparaged, unpopular, and more than likely be destructive of minority rights.

  • ||

    "Not only is the filibuster rule sensible, no legislation should pass without at least 67% supermajority,"

    Why not one man one vote and put everything to a referendum?

    REASON magazine is being used by the far Right.

  • ||

    "Why are two people who voted for Obama arguing?"

    Considering that MOST voters voted for Obama, it is inevitable that this will happen.

    REASON magazine is being used by the far Right.

  • libertarian democrat||

    PR,

    I am at best confused as to where you are going with that.

  • ||

    Why not one man one vote and put everything to a referendum?

    You think we have poor voter turn-out now? Imagine if there was a vote held weekly? You would get only interested parties (i.e., "special interests") voting for any given issue and we would quickly devolve into tyranny of the minority. I.e., would you get off your ass to vote for farming regulations? Does the average person know enough about every minute issue to make informed decisions?

  • jtuf||

    Seward | November 10, 2008, 10:05pm | #

    Kolohe,

    Basically all they needed was a semi-decent after occupation plan.


    The original occupation plan was about as bad as it could get. Step 1: They collected all the guns. Step 2: They stayed in the safe zones. So bassically, they made all the pro-American Iraqis (and only the pro-American Iraqis, because anti-Americans Iraqis didn't volunteer to hand in their guns) weaponless, then sat back to see what would happen. The situtation got much better once we put a new general in charge.

  • ||

    Francisco Torres, legend in his own mind, doesn't know the difference between a Chief of Staff and a Secretary of State.

    Please, sir, talk down to me more.

  • ||

    "Why are two people who voted for Obama arguing?"

    Because people outside of the conservative movement you worship don't check their individualism at the door.

    Think about what it says about someone who would write that line.

  • ||

    How can there be a "new tone" when this guy and half the other on staff are Clinton cronies?

    Another term for "Clinton crony" in this sentence is "Democrat with executive branch experience."

    The last Democratic administration before Clinton's ended 28 years ago. Any Democrat with even mid-level experience in the executive branch is going to have gained in the Clinton administration.

  • economist||

    Crap, is joe lecturing on individualism today? I need a drink.

  • ||

    What?? Wiegel decides he's less plussed for the Obama administration now, after virtually ovulating for Obama and screaming to be his free-market/marxist abomination birthing chamber? Shocking.

    I for one am shocked.

  • ||

    Seriously, if the Iraq thing would have worked,

    Actually, it looks like it did, just not soon enough.

    The original occupation plan was about as bad as it could get.

    And that's why. Fotunately, occupation v. 2.0 worked a little better.

    Another term for "Clinton crony" in this sentence is "Democrat with executive branch experience."

    Potato, potahto. Its one thing to bring in people with experience to fill administrative positions, its another to stock your policy advisors with the same ol', same ol'.

    I think that the Chief of Staff straddles the line. He runs the White House, but can have a great deal to say about policy priorities and directions as well.

  • ||

    Flamebait, but WTF, guys? If I remember correctly, Clinton didn't leave office with $4trillion in debt, two badly managed wars of questionable value and deep reductions in civil liberties.

    And OF COURSE Obama's an asshole. Jesus. Everyone knows he came out of the Chicago political skirmishes. But all you prognosticators who failed miserably in the runup to the election are now moving ahead with bullshit prophesying about how big an asshole Obama will get to be based on his studied choice for Chief of Staff? That just shows a kind of Tourette's reflex.

  • ||

    Francisco Torres, legend in his own mind, doesn't know the difference between a Chief of Staff and a Secretary of State.

    I knew that would attract enough attention... Like a bear to honey.


    Yes, Joe, I KNOW the difference and I KNOW he's not going to be Secretary of State but Chief of Staff. I just hope and pray to all the gods that Emanuel KNOWS the difference. . .

  • ABC||

    NAFTA is an example of free trade Weigel, you dolt.

  • ABC||

    That should read NOT... there is a God.

  • Patriot||

    That Communist Muslim Barack HUSSEIN Osama appointed another radical Muslim RAHIM Emanuel help take over this patriotic, Christian nation; if only the messiah Sarah Palin was here to save us....Oh, sorry, it's RAHM not RAHIM, which I've been told is an Jew name, so my apologies!!!

  • ||

    Quick note for you tea leaves readers...

    Marc Ambinder over at The Atlantic has the best rationale I've yet heard for Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel for Chief of Staff:

    Rahm knows the White House. He knows how to make the White House work.


GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement