The Celebrity and His Pitbull

6 Nov

Rahm and BarackJason Zengerle explains why President-Elect Barack H. Obama picked Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and co-architect of the 2006 Democratic conquest of the House, for chief of staff: both politicians are clients of David Axelrod.

Although Axelrod tended to take a dim view of advice that was offered by Democrats dialing from a 202 area code, Emanuel’s counsel was always welcomed. “There are two branches of Washington,” one Obama adviser told me. “There’s official Washington and the pundits and the people who have spent a lifetime there and who have done things the old way. And then there are other people, like Rahm who aren’t purveyors of conventional wisdom. We don’t even consider Rahm a Washington guy.”

I think that probably explains the thinking behind Obama apparently offering Emanuel the chief of staff job. He wants a guy who knows Washington but isn’t of Washington. Throw in the obvious comfort factor of the shared Axelrod connection, and Emanuel would seem to be an obvious choice.

Even better, Emanuel is moderate and a New Democrat. Furthermore, a Haaretz headline, “Obama’s first pick: Israeli Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff“, also offers another clue: Emanuel shores up Obama’s Israeli cred.

I think this is an excellent choice. It is a very quick indication Obama learned the first and most important lesson about the Carter, first Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations: learn about Washington without becoming an insider. The Haaretz biography also highlights another aspect of the relationship between the two Axelrod twins: Rahm “…the namesake of Rahamim, a Lehi combatant who was killed.” According to The Politico, Emanuel has a “take-no-prisoners style“.

“Obama wants a bad cop, so he can be good cop 90 percent of the time,” an adviser said.

Emanuel is a good choice for a guy who needs to fall on his sword for the boss.

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