Rahm Emanuel, 48, is the new White House Chief of Staff, appointed by President-elect Barack Obama. Emanuel has served as a Chicago congressman since 2003, but his experience goes even deeper. Emanuel worked on Paul Simon’s 1984 campaign for the Senate and served as a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton during his presidency. Also, Rahm is not the only successful Emanuel, as his brother Ari is a Hollywood agent credited for the model of the character Ari Gold in the HBO Series “Entourage”.
So, what is the consensus on Emanuel? Like most things in politics, there are always two sides to the coin.
Let’s start with the bad.
The selection of Emanuel has come with a lot of speculation. In his campaign, Obama vouched to reach across the aisle in Washington, moving away from politics as usual and towards bipartisanship. However, Emanuel cannot be categorized as bipartisan. Actually, Emanuel is far from it.
Emanuel has a history of destroying anyone in his way, which has developed the description of “sharp elbows”. Also, Emanuel has a degree of baggage in the banking world. Although he has had a great deal of success, banking $16 million in the few years he left the White House, he is criticized for being too allied with Wall Street.
In addition, ABC News Brian Ross reported on November 7 that Emanuel served on the board of directors for Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing, according to government reports. Emanuel was on this board, which was blamed for ignoring the red flags. Later, the entire board was accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight of having “failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention.”
But there is also the other side of the coin, which supports Emanuel as a strong candidate for the position. For one, Emanuel’s experience is unquestionable.
“Obama chose Emanuel because he brings to the table skills and experience (including White House experience) that complement Obama and he knows Emanuel will have ‘his back,’” said Dr. JoAnne Myers, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marist College.
Emanuel employs an aggressive style in politics and his vocabulary is on par. According to a U.S. News article, Nancy Pelosi said that the economic stimulus plan could be paid for if we “put a quarter in a jar every time Rahm uses a swear word.”
His take-no-prisoner approach earned him the nickname “Rahmbo” (NY Times). Emanuel will make every effort to find solutions to issues, hence reflecting that go-getter attitude Dr. Myers thought of him. It is believed that after the last eight years, the White House is in need of fiery politician like Emanuel.
Opinion: Emanuel’s position in politics is love and hate among both parties. In my own belief, I think the appointment was a contradiction. Obama set out to bring “change”. Rahm Emanuel is not an image of change for me. If Obama wanted to reach across the aisle and speak for everyone as promised, he would not have chosen arguably the biggest “liberal” figure among Democrats. Maybe I’m wrong, and I hope I am, but it will be interesting to see how this administration handles decisions and follows through on policies it campaigned to do.