Political strongcat Tiny "The Warrior" signals her displeasure to Baby "The Cakes" with a hissing, snarling neck grab as her brother makes the mistake of coming too close in maneuvering past her on the kitchen counter in pursuit of kitty treats. Note Tiny's furious glare and Baby's hang-cat look of resignation.
"Obama has used Chicago politics throughout his political life, and this writer is surprised NOW?" asks exasperated LDotter chiptill in the comments at Lucianne re AP reporters Liz Sidoti's and Nedra Pickler's shock, shock, that Barack Obama is "signaling a shift in tactics and temperament as he moves from candidate to president-elect, picking sharp-elbowed Washington insiders" like former Clinton apparatchik Rahm Emanuel, a "fiery partisan who doesn't mind breaking glass and hurting feelings," as chief of staff. We guess it depends upon what your definition of "shift" is. The London Times explains:
Described by those who know him as variously an attack dog, warrior, political gangster – the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama’s chief of staff has sent a shiver of unease through Republicans hoping for a new spirit of conciliation under the newly-elected president.
Others say the take-no-prisoners partisan nicknamed Rahmbo is a perfect fit for the almost preternaturally serene Mr Obama, who will need political strongmen around him if he is to push through the radical changes he seeks.
We doubt many Beltway Republicans were "hoping for a new spirit of conciliation," assuming they have read between the lines of Obama's meteoric rise. Like any successful politician, he has always done whatever it takes. In the Windy City you ally yourself with Chicago power brokers, throwing folks under the bus as necessary along the road to the White House. Once inside the Beltway, you ally yourself with Washington power brokers. Read between the lines of that AP report:
The selections are telling for Obama, who campaigned as a nontraditional, almost "post-partisan" newcomer … Obama himself brims with self-confidence, to the point that some people view him as arrogant. But to a greater degree than many presidents, he appears willing to lean on Washington insiders associated with other politicians …
In Emanuel, Obama has chosen a fellow Chicagoan who intimately knows both the White House and Congress, as a former political and policy aide for President Clinton and a current Illinois congressman who is the No. 4 Democrat in the House …
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio was less kind. He called his appointment an "ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil and govern from the center."
Promises, promises. With apologies to the great Vince Lombardi, Congressman Boehner, spinning isn't everything. It's the ONLY thing, and according to a 1998 WaPo report, spinning is the new chief of staff's stock in trade. "While most of his friends in the original Clinton team of 1992 … are traditional Democrats, Emanuel was a major force prodding Clinton to fasion a 'New Democrat' image." A few fun facts from that article:
While adapting an image of blustery swagger, Emanuel is an observant Jew and holds private sessions with his rabbi twice monthly. The tough-talking aide also takes time out each Saturday to don tights and practice ballet, which he began to study in high school. Beneath his hard edges, Emanuel has a surprisingly sweet side — sentimental and attentive to friends — that made him a popular figure among White House colleagues.
The insistent style that made him effective as a fund-raiser in 1992 proved transferable as he moved to politics and policy. His ethic is that there is no detail too small to sweat when it comes to Clinton's image …
For his part, Emanuel said he has learned to become more politic in his White House years. Even the first lady became a supporter. Acknowledging that he was too brash for his own good early on, he said that "as influence grows, so should humility."
Let's hope a bit of the "humility thing" rubs off on his new boss. Meanwhile, a few excerpts from Andrew Malcolm's LA Times blog suggest Rahm Emanuel may have learned some important lessons from past mistakes in the first Clinton administration:
Here are the very first few things Rahm Emanuel, president-elect Barack Obama's White House chief of staff-designate, is going to do. And they're gonna disappoint the DailyKos crowd:
First, be fast out of the gate.
Run to the middle politically. You're going to need those centrist folks for a second term. And it's never too soon to act on that.
Above all, remember: First impressions are crucial. They take forever to correct. Within 90 days Americans in this day and age will be forming some pretty firm convictions about the Obama Administration.
Finally, back to that AP article:
With the selection, Democrats say Obama seemed to recognize he may have his work cut out for him in taming the House: Liberals may try to push their own agenda, not necessarily Obama's. They say Emanuel is someone who not only can stand up to Congress but also maneuver through it to achieve a chief executive's goals.
And, Emanuel provides something Obama lacks — a temperament and willingness to snarl, even at his boss' allies.
To varying degrees, the party's liberals and labor leaders are wary of Emanuel [as the WSJ notes in "Obama's Real Opposition: Presidents come and go; Congressional barons are forever"]. He helped Clinton push the North American Free Trade Agreement through the House, angering the left [You go, Rahmbo!].
Angering the left. Disappointing the DailyKos crowd. Running to the middle politically. It's not the Obama we knew.
Update: "But what about the cautionary ad of MoveOn.org that essentially said "We raised $80 million for your campaign and now we own you!"? asks blog buddy Gayle Miller in a rousing rant in the comments:
What about that, huh, huh? My guess is that in order to raise the obscene amount of campaign money raised by Obama, he has sold himself — body, soul and ears — to everyone out there willing to purchase their own piece of the prez! This is a polyester nightmare kind of presidency coming up.
By contrast, notes Gayle, "Even when they are fussing at each other, those two cats are GORGEOUS!"
Update II: Lots more gorgeous animals, with and without backbones, at Modulator's Friday Ark #216.
Update III: We're pleased to report the WSJ agrees with our assessment:
Republicans are howling about Barack Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff, claiming the Illinois Congressman is a rough partisan who belies Mr. Obama's campaign rhetoric about comity and bipartisanship.
For our part, we like the choice. Mr. Emanuel is likely to be a restraining influence on the wackier Members of Congress …
As for Mr. Emanuel's famously sharp elbows, they are as likely to be wielded against his fellow Democrats as against Republicans. With Democrats now so dominant, the fiercest fights -- and the ones that really matter -- will take place among Democratic factions in the White House and Capitol Hill. Mr. Emanuel can help Mr. Obama understand when he needs to ignore the pleas of the left and govern from the center.
As we said above, "Angering the left. Disappointing the DailyKos crowd. Running to the middle politically. It's not the Obama we knew."
Update IV: "AWESOME post!!" imails our sis:
To start with, though, the cats don't look like "sparring partners." It looks as though Tiny is "pulling a Mike Tyson" and biting off Baby's ear.
But, yes. The choice of Emanuel will be most interesting to watch. Obviously HE wants the power, and stopping the idiot Congressional RATS in their tracks will be a good place to start.
If history's a guide, their all-about-me agendas will cancel each other out.