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The Real Rahm Emanuel Story

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 3/15/10

The Rahm Emanuel story raises two great issues that will ultimately define the success or failure of the Obama presidency, and the public option debate puts this high drama in clear perspective.

First, the President has failed to create respect or fear from allies and adversaries. Even the white house chief of staff, or his friends, put out stories that lower the stature of the president to elevate the stature of a member of his staff.

The truth is, most of the people who fear the President the most are the base of his supporters who elected Democrats in 2006 and 2006 who worry about what major principles will be compromised next.

Second, the reason the President has lost control over the political narrative and Democrats have blown a realigning moment after 2008 is that the candidate who campaigned to fight for transforming change has become a President who makes the insider deals that voters elected him to end.



The great truth about off-year elections is that they are won or lost based on turnout. The great mistake of the Obama Presidency is that the President has shown a cavalier disregard for his most fervent supporters in 2008, taking them for granted, while Rahm Emanuel views the President's base with disdain that borders on contempt.


Set aside that Dana Milbank's tribute to Emanuel in the Washington Post read like the accolades to Brezhnev in Pravda circa 1968. The larger issue is that Milbank, and Emanuel, have it backwards about what constitutes a "voice of reason" in Washington circa 2010.

Congress should pass a major health care reform bill, but where healthcare went wrong was a combination of disastrously weak negotiating (the fear and respect problem) and a strategy of secret deals that led to the surrender of more powerful and less costly reforms (the rally the voters problem).

There should be an all-out fight for the public option on the floor of the House and Senate when the reconciliation bill is considered.

The President once said insurers should support the bill because it would profit them greatly by force feeding 30 million new customers to them. Now he attacks insurers and argues Congress should pass the bill because Goldman Sachs recommends buying insurance stocks ahead of the bill's passage.

For months while the President said he supported the public option, Rahm Emanuel held secret meetings to surrender it. The New York Times reported last August that there was a backroom deal with hospital lobbyists assuming no public option, to get their support for the bill, while the President said he supported it.

Months were wasted with predictably failed negotiations with Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) who accused the president of supporting death panels.

Rahm Emanuel should not be demonized. But the President and Democrats must understand where the Obama presidency went wrong, why an enormous historical moment was lost in 2009, and how the president can prevail in 2010.

The President must choose. The rorschach presidency must end. The President was not elected to make secret deals or constantly shift tactics without paramount first principles that he was elected to fight for and rally Americans to support.

The President must toughen up and end the perception that he can be smeared by enemies, disrespected by friends, and rolled by lobbyists who are anathema to the reasons he was elected and the voters who supported him.

The real Rahm Emanuel story is that the story is not about Rahm Emanuel, who is the symptom but not the cause of the President's problem.

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Brent Budowsky is a regular columnist on thehill.com. He served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as (more...)
 

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The president's weakness, indecision and inability... by Dick Thomson on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 10:50:52 AM
We're in a terrible situation here, in case you ha... by Kahukugirl on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 5:26:58 PM
When I was collecting signatures in Chicago for Ra... by Dick Thomson on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 6:40:30 PM
I would be less kindly toward Obama than the write... by Joan Mootry on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 12:42:38 PM
The corporate interests.Hard to imagine a more per... by Miriam Callaghan on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 1:24:00 PM
... by Kahukugirl on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 5:29:45 PM
I think there is more to it than just a bait-and-s... by Charlie L on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 2:05:37 AM
I was for Johnny Edwards.... by Bryan Emmel on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 2:51:11 AM
Nice article, another in the evidence of a caving ... by Fredrick on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 1:44:52 PM
I have never voted anything other than progressive... by maheanuu on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 2:30:13 PM
Demonizing Rahm Emanuel is one thing, but telling ... by James Brett on Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 9:21:47 PM
Emanuel is Obama's boy, nominated almost immediate... by Marika on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 4:32:48 AM
emanuel is a symptom rather than the cause of obam... by Joan Brunwasser on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 7:04:25 AM
Rahm Emanuel epitomizes "the Obama Style," which i... by Perry Logan on Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 6:11:23 AM
Much more.My letter of Rep. KucinichDear Rep. Kuci... by Miriam Callaghan on Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 10:34:46 PM
Once again, well said, Miriam. What a sad, sad sit... by Joan Mootry on Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:19:54 PM
Let us not forget that this Administration, by not... by Charlie L on Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:55:54 PM
My feelings Precisely, but I don't agree that the ... by Herbert Calhoun on Saturday, Mar 20, 2010 at 7:20:14 AM