It's a bit weird to see so much blame accruing to Rahm Emanuel for the administration's woes. Emanuel wasn't part of the campaign team. He was brought in to help govern. In that capacity, his primary job was shepherding the administration's agenda through the legislative process. Ugly as that process was, Emanuel -- and more to the point, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- did a fairly masterful job at it. In the Senate, Democrats got all 60 of their members to sign onto the same large, controversial bill. That's a legislative achievement unheralded in modern times. Bill Clinton didn't manage it on any bills of this size and scope, and neither did George W. Bush.
Then the game changed, and unexpectedly. Ted Kennedy's death wasn't unpredictable, but the loss of his seat was certainly a surprise. It wasn't, however, a surprise that's easy to track back to Emanuel.
If the administration has failed at anything, it's been holding public support for its bills. But that's not really Emanuel's job. That's where David Axelrod and the rest of the political team come into play. But it's not obvious that much can be done on this front. The best thing that could've happened to health-care reform was that Congress stuck to the timetable that Emanuel and the White House originally set. Once they decided not to do that -- and no Jedi mind tricks from the White House chief of staff were going to dissuade them -- the ugly and endless process was certain to erode support for the bill.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Ezra on the new "Blame Rahmbo" meme sweeping the nation: