Chicago mayor Richard Daley's announcement that he would not seek reelection immediately sparked speculation: could Rahm Emanuel seek the spot? Rumors that the White House chief of staff might be Chicago-bound have only intensified, producing a belated outpouring of positive Emanuel assessments. The canny political operator was seeming very unpopular, particularly among liberals, earlier in the year. Will the White House suffer if Emanuel leaves?
Rahm Did What He Was Hired to Do: Deal with Congress, judges MSNBC's First Read team, which also calls the earlier and still extant "liberal/progressive campaign against Rahm ... one of the more bizarre developments we've seen," not least because those pushing it implied that the president was a great person being "run by his staff," who were bad. Here's their Emanuel assessment:
Obama brought in Rahm because he didn't want to make the mistake Carter, Bush 41, and Clinton all made, by bringing in inexperienced non-Washington hands and then seeing them get rolled by Congress. For better or worse, Rahm did his job--which was manage legislation and get it passed. In that respect, he's been as effective as any White House chief of staff since Baker.
- Better Rahm than His Replacement, seems to be Jennifer Rubin's feel at the conservative magazine Commentary. She's responding to a report that Valerie Jarrett might fill the position. "Obama will be trading one Chicago pol (who at least understood how to elect Democrats from places that weren't deep Blue) for a liberal Chicago pol whose instincts seem to mirror David Axelrod's: when in doubt, go left."
- Rahm Leaving Could Be Good Mediaite's Glenn Davis points out, though, that both Chris Matthews and New York Magazine's John Heilemann seem to think a "shakeup" might actually help the White House.
- Shakeup Good, Losing Rahm Bad "While Obama could certainly use some fresh blood in the White House, losing Emanuel would be a blow," counters The Washington Examiner's Mark Hemingway.
He's unparalleled when it comes to herding Democrats on Capitol Hill and was likely the voice of reason on any number of issues. If Obama had taken Emanuel's advice about avoiding the health care debate so early in his presidency, Obama would probably be in much better shape than he is now.
- Also, Losing Rahm to Chicago Race Particularly Bad Newsweek's Jonathan Alter notes that Obama would be put in a "tight spot" regarding endorsements: despite loyalty to Emanuel, whom he "owes," Alter says "that doesn't mean he would necessarily wade into a Democratic primary and endorse him over other politicians he has also known for years."