Left Rages at Rahm Emanuel

Obama's top aide becomes lightning rod for Obama administration criticism

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010  |  Updated 9:11 AM PDT
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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is drawing heat from liberals.

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The knives are out for Rahmbo.

President Obama’s top aide, Rahm Emanuel, has become a lightning rod within his party for criticism of the administration. While liberal Democrats complain that Emanuel has failed his boss by trying to be too conciliatory with Republicans, moderates argue Obama’s agenda has stalled because Emanuel’s pragmatic advice has been ignored too often.

Here’s what pundits are saying about Emanuel’s job security and how he is or isn’t holding back progress on Obama’s agenda:

  • “Replace Rahm with me,” writes Michael Moore in an open letter to the president. Moore pledges to act as Obama’s drill sergeant, enforcing the president’s “mandate” by threatening to “nonviolently beat the Republicans to a pulp” and by punishing recalcitrant Democrats. “We will take names, kick butts, and then take some more names. If we have to give a few noogies or half-nelsons, then so be it,” he writes.
  • Lynn Sweet writes for the Chicago Sun-Times that the Emanuel story is “frustrating the Obama White House, which is not used to such drama.” “It comes as Obama's approval ratings are low and he has make-or-break votes on health-care reform in Congress and faces challenges in closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison and trying terrorist suspects who are currently being held there,” she writes. But the “tense” atmosphere and disagreements inside the White House doesn’t mean “there are substantive rifts within the close-knit group.”
  • NPR’s All Things Considered riffs on the similarity between the gossip surrounding Emanuel and “palace intrigue” that was the focus of Season 1 of “The West Wing.” "The story is a distraction," former Clinton press secretary and “West Wing” consultant Dee Dee Myers says.
  • Progressive FireDogLake blogger fflambeau writes that Emanuel isn’t the problem – it’s the president. “Obama isn’t hostage to the right or hostage to Rahm, Obama isn’t some good guy who’s been misled,” flambeau argues. “Rather, Obama’s a willing partner, even leader (he is POTUS, after all), in what his administration has done this past 14 months.”
     

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