Friday, November 07, 2008

Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff

Obama is out of the gate and running. Everyone seems taken aback at the alacrity with which his organization is moving. Less than 48 hours after his (our) historic victory in the general election, big decisions are being announced in rapid-fire succession.

Well, that's all to the good. The crises being faced by this country require immediate response, and Obama is not dithering.

Unfortunately, I find his first and most important personnel decision to be appalling: Congressman Rahm Emanuel is to be the chief of staff.

White House Chief of Staff is a very powerful position. The WHCS controls the flow of information into and out of the White House. The WHCS is the gateway to the President, determining who gets in to the Oval Office and who gets escorted to the exit.

From a practical standpoint this is a good choice for Obama. He and Emanuel are personal friends, both coming from Illinois. Emanuel "made his bones" working for the Clinton administration as a senior advisor from 1993 to 1998. He's been in Congress, representing Illinois' 5th Congressional district since 2002. By all accounts, he is a hard-nosed individual and by many more, he's a son of a bitch. Emanuel knows the ins and outs of how things work in the halls of Congress and so will be a huge asset to Obama when it comes to getting his agenda passed. No problems with any of that.

Emanuel is less of an idealist and more of a pragmatist when it comes to left-versus-right politics. While that doesn't endear him to me, I can live with that.

The reason Emanuel's selection troubles me is because of what it means in terms of US policy toward the Israel-Palestine issue and toward the Muslim world, generally. Emanuel supported the illegal invasion of Iraq; is by all evidence, fanatic in his support of Israel (he went so far as to join the Israeli army as a young man, in spite of being a citizen of the United States); and is harsh in his rhetoric toward the oppressed Palestinians.

Any hopes I have may have harbored that an Obama administration might take a more equitable position in addressing the grotesque Israeli occupation of Palestine and the criminal oppression being perpetrated on Palestinians may not have died completely, but they're on life support.

I hearken back to a recent conversation I had with a Palestinian man and have to agree with the sober assessment he uttered about the next President of the United States: there ain't a lick of difference between Obama and McCain when it comes to Israel-Palestine. The Emanuel selection shows that Obama isn't going to ruffle any feathers over at AIPAC.

I'm still hopeful about an Obama administration being more equitable and just in its relationship to the world outside our borders. But Obama's selection of Rahm Emanuel as his most important advisor points up the fact that there is still a dire need for social activism and dissension.


Shus li said...

I am not surprised by Obama's hard line stance in support of Israel. I don't agree with him on this. In fact, I think he is working within a broken system that is, to use your expression, on life support at this time.

HOWEVER - I am happy to see the fascist Bush regime sent packing!! (well, in 01/09)

Your observation is right on: "...there is still a dire need for social activism and dissension."

Ridwan said...

Great post Dade. Emanuel is also a supporter of the war on terror, the Iraq war, and an expanded US presence in Afghanistan.

How a black man like Obama can be so blind to the suffering of the Palestinean people tells me a lot about what he values more.

He is supported by AIPAC and the corporate interests that prop up his world view.

He may not be W. by any stretch but in these early days he is hardly looking like he will be any different when it comes to Palestine in particular.

That alone is enough for me to sweep his sorry ass aside.

There is a need for more than just waving W. out and waving Obama in with the same hand, change cannot be entrusted to the establishment that got us to this point.

As always, I appreciate and respect your view.

Peace and struggle,

Heather Ann said...

I've been wanting to find out more about Emanuel. I couldn't remember anything right off. I am sorry to see that he has the SOB reputation...I do hope that we will see positive change in foreign policy including in Palestine!

NWJR said...

Emanuel is the chief of STAFF. His job is to keep the staff in line, protect the President from infighting and backstabbing, and make sure the ship sails in the direction set by the President.

He's not the Defense Secretary.

He's not the Commerce Secretary.

He's not in any position to affect policy change. He's a glorified HR Director.

As such, I think he's a perfect choice, and another indication that the adults are in charge.