Friday, November 07, 2008

What Does Obama's Selection of Rahm Emanuel Mean? (Updated))

The consensus seems to be that Emanuel was picked by Obama to be his Chief of Staff because Emanuel's reputation as something of a pitbull, possibly even to push his weight around among the Democrats.

Others see him as representing Big Money in the White House:
Sixteen years ago, when Bill Clinton was moving into the White House, good-government liberals were disheartened that the President-elect named his campaign’s top fundraiser, Rahm Emanuel, as White House political director. They read this as a sign that cash would be king in the Clinton Administration. They were right.

Four elections later, after getting rich in a brief stint in finance, Emanuel is the favorite congressman of Wall Street, measuring by campaign contributions. In the midst of a financial crisis that President-elect Barack Obama blames on Wall Street’s greed and excessive influence in Washington, Emanuel is once again headed to a perch of power in a Democratic White House, this time as chief of staff.
Few seem to see him as a nice Jewish boy whose selection is a nod to the Jewish community to reassure them on Israel. Yesterday, Jonah Goldberg wrote:
The Jewish angle completely escaped me, and I have to wonder whether it escaped Obama as well. I certainly think that if Emmanuel were an Epsicopalian but in all other ways the same guy, Obama would still want him. But, it's an interesting point.
That was actually the angle I first wrote about, considering that Rahm Emanuel's father was a member of the Irgun, Emanuel's volunteering in Israel in 1991 during the Kuwait War, and his involvement in choreographing the Rabin-Arafat handshake during the Oslo signing. 

Today, that Israel angle seems to be a little more apparent, as Andy McCarthy quotes from The Jerusalem Post:
In an interview with Ma'ariv, Emanuel's father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," he was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."
Except with his enemies, of course.

In any case, as I've written before: at a time when Olmert has made it possible to be pro-Israel while supporting a Palestinian state and making concessions on Jerusalem--the idea of what it means to be pro-Israel has been diluted to the point that just about anyone can play.

It figures, at a time pundits assume that the appointments that Obama makes will finally give a clue as to where he stands--on anything--he still is managing to elude being pinned down.

UPDATE: That connection with money may spell trouble for Emanuel and Obama:
President-elect Barack Obama's newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot "red flags," according to government reports reviewed by

According to a complaint later filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Freddie Mac, known formally as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors between the years 2000 and 2002.

Emanuel was not named in the SEC complaint (click here to read) but the entire board was later accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) (click here to read) of having "failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention."
Unlike Obama's connections, Emanuel's connections may become an issue.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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road warrior said...

I am not sure what it means that he picked Emanuel but what i do want to know is when is he going to pick a Republican to sit beside in on capital hill? he all this liberal illuminati friends talked up his bipartisan politics the whole election. Well now it's time to see it.

Daled Amos said...

The names of some Republicans have been mentioned as possibilities. We will see what happens.

Batya said...

He makes me nervous, because he's fluent in Hebrew and knows how to pull the strings, like he posed rabin and arafat.

Daled Amos said...

Actually, I read somewhere that he was not fluent in hebrew--which I thought odd. In any case it makes no difference. The fact is that his reputation speaks volumes about the ever enigmatic Obama.