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The GOP beats Obama and Emanuel at 11 dimensional chess

When you're so busy being awesome that you don't notice that Republicans checkmated you 10 moves ago.

The New York Times Magazine has a lengthy piece about poor put upon Rahm Emanuel.  He is so tired of all of the nasty things said about him.  He is so tired of the Republicans playing hardball.  He is so tired of Democratic activists acting retarded.  He is so tired.  Period.

He gets blamed for everything he does.

I almost feel sorry for him.  Really.  Because, ya’ know, he’s just doing his job.  There was a reason why Barack ” NOW with a WHOLE 142 days in the Senate!” Obama hired Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.  It’s because Obama didn’t know what the hell he was going to do on legislation.  He didn’t have enough experience, er, legislatin’.  He spend the great bulk of his time in the Senate getting recruited, lining up sponsors and shmoozing the Old Boys Club who liked the cut of his jib and the whack of his mashie niblick.  If Obama has any political genius at all (and I have my doubts, big time), it’s being in the right place at the right time with the right genetic mutation for melanocyte expression.  But I digress.

I found this segment about Rahm particularly interesting because it shows his usefulness to Obama:

By the time Obama was headed for victory in 2008, Emanuel’s name was coming up as an obvious choice to run the new White House. But he had other ideas. Just a few weeks before the election, we met for one of those expense-account dinners, and he flatly rejected any suggestion that he might become chief of staff. He had set his sights on eventually becoming speaker of the House of Representatives, keenly aware that Nancy Pelosi was approaching 70, as were the two others ahead of him on the Democratic ladder, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn of South Carolina. Emanuel, two decades their junior, could afford to wait them out and would still have a long tenure ahead of him in the speaker’s chair. The typical White House chief of staff, he knew all too well, lasted only two years or so. And then what?

There you go.  Obama needed someone to interface on his behalf with Congress and he needed someone who swung a big dick.  That was Emanuel’s job.  He serves at the pleasure of the president.  When he is no longer pleasuring the president, he’ll be out.  But then, Obama will have to find an Emanuel replacement.  Someone who knows who’s in, who’s out.  Someone who understands the legislative process because they’ve actually had to work it.

But replacing Rahm won’t make the legislation better or Obama more to our liking.  After all, Rahm is only carrying out what Obama wants to do.  And by the looks of it, it isn’t much.  If you read the piece, you get the idea that maybe Rahm wanted to approach health care incrementally by expanding medicaid and SCHIP.  Stuff like that might have been doable and a good stop gap measure while the Obama administration worked on more pressing issues like the economy.  Rahm would have known what this congress was capable of since he was one of the chief architects for bringing some nasty conservative actors into the Democratic fold.

(BTW, I am noticing a troubling tendency of the NYTimes to refer to these blue dog reactionary elements as ‘moderates’.  They’re not.)

The country voted in Democrats in 2008, or what they *thought* were Democrats anyway.  They could have voted in small government, tax cutting, hard hearted, authoritarian, rugged individualist, dog-eat-dog, Hobbseian, warmongering, Glenn Beck worshipping, Enron-esque Republicans instead but it appears the country was tired of them so they voted those types out in favor of the party who they thought would protect their   nest eggs, jobs, civil rights, reproductive rights and put the country back on the right track.

When it came to health care reform, Obama decided to go for comprehensive reform.  But he was more interested in the kill (enter Emanuel) than the policy.  He ordered Rahm to do the dirty work and just get it done.  So, Rahm did the bi-partisan thing and got a bill, any bill.  In it, the Republicans have gotten their pound of flesh.  They were never going to sign off on the thing anyway but like predators toying with their food first, they have been seeing just how far the Obama was willing to go to score health care reform.  Now they know and we know that Obama was willing to negotiate with insurance company terrorists, backstab their most fervent union supporters and betray everything Democrats ran for when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.  If the Democrats pass this bill, it will be a Republican triumph.

We have to wonder why Obama, and let’s put the blame where it belongs, it is Obama, was so eager and anxious to pass health care reform without really reforming health care.  Let’s put aside the fact that he didn’t really have a plan.  He was just crudely plagiarizing Hillary’s plan during the primaries, that is, when he wasn’t trying to stab her in the back with Harry and Louise ads.  I don’t think he really came to the White House with well developed policies on anything, and it shows.  So much for his political gifts.  In essence, here was a guy obsessed with winning at all costs but had absolutely no idea what to do once he got there.  So, he hires Rahm.

But why health care?  Why is it so important to score a win in that area above everything else?  Why does this POS legislation have to have his stamp on it before the 2010 elections?  If it passes and there is no meaningful reconciliation before he elections, there will certainly be none after the Democrats lose their majorities.  And Republicans will fight tooth and nail from now until November to keep Democrats from fixing the bill.  They like it just the way it is.  It’s going to disgust the Democratic base.

So, why would Obama and the Democrats walk into a trap like this, other than the obvious reason that Republicans can control the message and play this game so much better than they do?  Could it be because Hillary is still out there?  After all, Obama’s numbers took a dip in the past couple of weeks.  Right on schedule, the Washington Post writes about how Hillary Clinton runs the State Department.  Actually, except for the gratuitous bit of revisionist history at the beginning and generally negative spin such pieces are famous for, it sounds like she’s doing a pretty good job of winning her employees’ loyalty and staying on top of things.  She is practicing what appears to be a political version of Lemov’s rules, making cold calls, keeping everyone on their toes and engaging in debate with people who may not agree with her (she then rewards them).  Um, she sounds like the ideal boss, to be honest.  I want to work for Hillary.  I’m betting that if Rahm could ever get over his macho, testosterone fueled disdain for Hillary Clinton, he might wish he were working for her too.  And she’s still out there.  If Obama doesn’t put his stamp on health care reform, there’s always that remote possibility that Democratic moneybags who still have some Democrat principles will want to give Hillary a shot in 2012.

But enough wistful regret at what might have been.  This is the reality: Obama is out of his league, he’s naive at a  in our nation’s history when naivete is a phenotype we should be selecting against and he’s got a fricking pitbull for a Chief of Staff.  There is enough stuff in here about Rahm’s workouts in the House gym and pressure tactics he employs there that make Massa’s report of an encounter with him very credible.

The Republicans are taking the Democrats to the cleaners because, damn it!, they just play 11 dimensional chess better.  We don’t have to love their policies to admire their ability to adapt to their environment and survive.  Nancy Pelosi is smart enough to know the White House is playing the strategy badly but, hey, she was also stupid enough to buy into the “easy win with the first black president” idea back in 2008.  Nooooo, can’t have Hillary.  The press would savage her, like she wasn’t winning in spite of all the $%^& they hurled at her during the primaries.  What Pelosi and her ilk failed to realize is that the Republican tactics that have been so successful blindsided the Clintons in 1992.  But they adapted and Hillary had a much better chance of neutralizing them in 2008 because she learned from experience.  Obama ran on his advertised political gifts and newness but has no experience whatsoever.  In any area.  So, Pelosi is a very slow learner but now she has a clue, as do many other Democrats who were infatuated with Obama and assumed he was a demigod of political gifts.

Too bad they stuck us with a newbie against a party full of Gary Kasparovs.

62 Responses

  1. What I want to know is where the myth that Obama is a skilled political operator came from.

    There is absolutely nothing in his past to support that idea. All of his political successes were handed to him.

    • He’s a spoon bender ala Uri Geller. I mean some one had to figure out how to get ALL of your competition thrown out on technicalities.

      • Has he won ONE election that wasn’t based on something weird happening to his competition? Unsealed court records, not counting votes in two HUGE states and rampant caucus fraud, bad signatures on qualifying papers … NAME one where he actually won based on something other than weird changes in rules or something akin to that.

        • The general election for the presidency? Of course, that could only happen if he were running after Bush trashed the place. And of course, he never would have gotten to the general without ensuring that the fix was in.

          • He was losing that one until Wall Street staged a crisis.

          • Yep, he would have lost that one just like he would have lost every election he’s ever been in if it weren’t for some sort of cheat. Funny how just in time, the people that paid for him to be there accidentally on purpose made a crisis happen that would insure his victory.

        • There isn’t one to name. He hasn’t won one, ever, that was fair, on the level, or not outright rigged.

    • Didn’t you get the memo? All Democratic activists and bloggers were instructed to push that meme for all it was worth.
      I must have spammed that email.

      • I remember how the Ollie Obots would wax lyrically about how he would use political ju jitsu on the GOPers and how those poor schlubs would never know what hit them.

        • It could still happen.

          • It was more like a kung fu hustle.

            Obama has never demonstrated he even has average political skills. Take away Axelrove and influential supporters like Emil Jones and Ted Kennedy and Obama couldn’t have done anything.

          • That might be Obama’s real skill, schmoozing the ones with skills, stroking their egos and making them do all the dirty work.

          • “If you’re going to be a puppet, be the best puppet you can be.”

        • I think Obie got the Jujitsu wrong. You’re supposed to use your opponent’s strength to make them lose balance, not lay down and let them walk all over you.

          Rahm would make a more effective enforcer if he had something concrete to enforce. With no direction, he’s just a bully.

    • The same place where the myth that W was a skilled political operator came. Remember, W too had brilliant campaigns and only his opponents made mistakes.

      • all the Obama campaign did was send people from Illinois places to reregister to vote to overwhelm caucuses and a few key primary areas and cry racism over and over until something stuck… I never got figured out why they though the Clinton campaign was badly run. Richardson, Edwards and Obama also did all those tricks with florida and michigan too. It’s not brilliant campaigning when the press really doesn’t cover a candidate’s weaknesses or flaws either and does nothing but cover the other candidate’s weak position as the front runner so they can set them up to knock them down … it was a mess of a campaign season and now we have the same group making a mess of governance

    • AMEN!

  2. Will this be the end of Rahm’s career?
    Never-to-be Speaker of the House?
    Karma is getting predictable with the associates and enablers of the Fradulent One.

  3. Riverdaughter, you say it the best!

  4. “…who liked the cut of his jib and the whack of his mashie niblick.”

    lol, you are such a pleasure to read.

    • So, you like sailing and golf? We do attract an elitist crowd here.

      • Thought you were channeling your inner Mad Men muse … that’s so sixties!

        • Which is where the zeitgeist of the Old Boy’s Club member’s mind still resides…

          • I think it was just refined and modernized by then. Believe it started in the Victorian years with all those men’s clubs where boys could get away from their dowdy wives and children and go smoke pipes, discuss manly things, drink, and read in peace. You know, like the Chicago Athletic Club.

          • And they liked Obama because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

  5. The Hill:

    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the healthcare bill will pass by next weekend.

    “We’ll have the votes when the House votes, I think, within the next week,” Gibbs said on “Fox News Sunday.”

    That’s bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.

  6. Atrios:

    They Fucked The Whole Thing Up

    No, he’s not talking about Obama and the Democrats. But he should be.

  7. Hear, hear! The stupid party strikes once again. Even when it tries to borrow from the GOP playbook (fixing elections, smearing opponents) it still uses them only to hang themselves higher.
    And on the subject of dirty tricks: Moveon

  8. Obama only wants to do what his handlers expect of him…he has made it abundantly clear he has no concept of what the people of this country are experiencing, and even more clear that whatever our problems, he could not care less. He accepted their offer to be their puppet, they got him elected, and now they run the show.

    I’ve decided HCR is nothing more than the needed distraction from all the economic antics that are going on in the background, the foreclosures, the job losses, and everything else that’s ruining the lives of the working class. The media kings are part of the handler group.

    If these guys were going to have to deal with 4 years of a D in the oval office, they were going to make sure it was the D they could gain the most from….and, they did. He does them proud, and we’ll have a second term of this.

  9. Obama was writing about wanting to become president of the US as early as the first grade. Whom do you think put that idea in his head? Ann.

    A psychologist who writes a weekly column in the newspaper here recently agreed with a grandmother who was railing against her children who were telling her grandchildren they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up.

    As we’ve seen with Obama, you have to have the frigging skills and character to be president. And all that Hillary has to be president.

  10. I’m still alive, folks. I just find politics too wretchedly depressing even to lurk on political blogs these days.

    I wish to present an alternative scenario:

    The DINOcrats actually are chess masters, but they’re playing to lose.

    The Malefactors Of Great Wealth realized that the Chimperial Cheney @$$ministration had screwed the whole kennel of pooches so egregiously that, in 2008, they could not install another Elephascist Prez without rigging the elections SO blatantly that the plausible deniability of 2000 and 2004 would vanish. They would have to settle for a DINOcrat this time. Hillary would not do for 3 reasons:

    [1] She had icky girl parts.
    [2] She had too much of a mind of her own.
    [3] She had good reason, if she became Prez, to use those “unitary executive” powers the Busheviks would have left her to imitate the Eumenides against the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, many members of which were faithful high-ranking servants, or even members, of the Malefactors Of Great Wealth.

    The MOGW needed someone willing to take a dive in 2012 in return for the promise of vast wealth after he left office. As I think has been pointed out here, that’s where the real bribery comes in–not during a politician’s years in office, but the promise of corporate-funded cushy sinecures after leaving office IF s/he plays ball with the MOGW.

    Enter the Shining Golden False Messiah. Once the MOGW chose him as their front man, they directed their Corporate Media to fellate him to a fare-thee-well, first against Hillary and then against McCain. It was when the Corporate Media stuck with 0bama against McCranky, when I was expecting they would turn on 0bama, that I began to realize what was happening.

    Once in office, it became the job of 0bama and the other DINOcrats to screw the common citizens’ whole kennel of pooches so badly that said citizens actually would vote the Elephascists back in when 2010 and 2012 rolled around. Of course, as I noted above, the DINOs will be compensated richly for any offices they lose in the process.

    But, of course, no one will compensate Us The People when the USA collapses economically from the draining effects of our kleptocracy.

    However, given that the true purpose of “our” country now is to provide the military and covert action forces necessary to torture and murder enough brown people to keep the Global South [fka da 3rd World] subjugated to USAmerican and multinational MOGWs, perhaps it will at least benefit the poor people of the Global South if we do collapse.

    RD invoked TOS in her picture; I will do the same.

    “What is the penalty for murder?”


    “How will you pay for your sin of murder?”


    • I forgot to mention–Faux Noise stuck with the Elephascists in 2008 to provide plausible deniability that the Corporate Media was backing 0bama. Either that, or Rupert The Kangaroo Molester didn’t get the memo from his fellow MOGWs.

    • I think the first meeting teh awesome took in the oval office was from the economic hit men.

  11. There are so many things I have liked about this site over the last year or so so I’m sorry to have to criticize. I wish there was a site that had comparably good content that was not so (what’s a word…) crude. I would like to direct my parents to a site that has great economic writing (my father and sister are economists and my mother a psychologist) and as Obama voters who are beginning to be somewhat disillusioned, all the talk about penises and other bravura would just really turn them off.

    Tell the truth it turns me off, and you don’t have to care, its your site. But what do you want to do with your site?

    So you disdain Hamsher, yet directing someone to that site would not be embarrassing. Seriously, you marginalize this site in many ways. Hillbuzz has done this too but to a much greater extent and they seem to be actually espousing right wing content even tho it is just all about personalities to them. Do you really want to be seen as a “pissed off about Hillary” site to the detriment of your serious, insightful and important content?

    • Hi, Rahm. :mrgreen:

      • Typical. I’ve tried a couple of times to voice my view at Hillbuzz too and all they can do is make up nonsense about me, call me a troll and other names they think are funny and try to ridicule me as a way to buffer my words. But it is their site and this is what they choose to do. I’m sorry to see it, and I’m sorry to see it here too. I detested it at Kos too and stopped reading there long ago. If you don’t like Kos behavior don’t just mimic it.

        • Wow, you just get abused and mistreated everywhere you go. Maybe it has something to do with your snide and sanctimonious attitude.

          • myiq2xu, I’m a big fan of yours, and no I don’t get “abused” where ever I go. 🙂 Just when I go against the current, which happens. Its happened a lot over this past year. I was banned at Kos and other kool-aid sites. Never considered it abuse tho.

            I don’t mean to be snide or sanctimonious. I’m actually trying to be honest and clear and tell how I see things from my pov.

          • If you’re a big fan of mine then crude doesn’t really bother you that much.

            For better or for worse, this blog is what it is and we’re not gonna change anytime soon.

          • They say fuck and dick and whore all the time at Hamsher’s site. Though I wish they would ease up on whore. They love that word over there.

        • Seriously? What exactly do you think lecturing the writers and commenters of this site will do for you? If you don’t like the content, create your own blog. If you don’t like the content, find another that meets your standards.

          I didn’t read Kos for any more than a month or so in 2008–talk about your condesending and pathetic people, that’s Kos. I regularly read TPM, Taylor Marsh, Sullivan, HuffPo, Think Progress, Talk Left, Atrios, and Digby. They all cashed in rather than stood for any kind of values or principle. I am not a follower–which is exactly what they felt their “community” should do.

          I come here for the real world.

      • Rahm has a problem with crude language? Who knew…

    • Ahem. Jane Hamsher is self employed and has no children. I work for a living and live with a fourteen year old girl.
      Which one of us had more time to organize? Better yet, why is Jane fucking it up?

  12. If this site doesn’t remain pissed off over Hillary, I’m leaving.

    You call 8,580,733 hits in what, 2 years?, marginalizing this site?

    If you’re for real, blogging may be too rough a sport for your family.

    • You are probably right, blogging is maybe not for them. They are retired, in their 80s lifelong gentle dems have walked the walk. I’ve been trying to get them into reading a few blogs as they will ONLY read NYT. Oh well, probably won’t happen. Maybe after 5or6 years I can get my daughter to visit this site since the pissed off about Hillary will probably mellow and focus will be on issues more then personalities.

      • we are pissed of because he and the democratic elite screwed us out of our votes. it just so happens that this also coincided that the best democratic candidate we’ve had in decades was screwed over in the process…. so yeah, we are pissed about Hillary but we are truly pissed about SO MUCH MORE.

        ps. we eat concern trolls for breakfast around here

        • “We eat concern trolls for breakfast around here.”

          With some fava beans. And a nice Chianti. 😈

      • There you go, giving yourself away.

        This site has ALWAYS been focused primarily on issues, not personalities.

        The “personalities” meme is an Obot lie.

  13. If your mama’s offended at “crude,” she has no business being a psychologist. Her clients must send her to the fainting couch on a daily basis.

    So what is she, really?

    • Heavens to Betsy, don’t be so gosh darn rough on our visitors!

    • I related to bostonboomer’s recent homage to her dad, as I love my folks too. My mother was an absolute pioneer for women’s rights, as was my grandmother. She put herself thru college at U of Chicago and then taught Montessori and then put herself thru UofChicago for her master’s. She was one of the first women to teach developmental psychology at the college level. They are loyal dems and Chicagoans and we differed in our opinions and views on the last election. Strongly differed. But I still love them and would like to have more civil discourse and was hoping that intelligent blogs might be an entre. Maybe wishful thinking on my part.

      • What a coincidence, I love my parents too!

        What else do we have in common?

        • I was responding to the sort of “snide” comment : “So what is she, really?” We probably have lots in common. Keep having fun!

  14. OK, my mistake. At least you are a better read (for me) than Hillbuzz, and I’ve really enjoyed being called a “troll” and other names at both sites, and I’ll add that to being called names at Kos and Huffington.

  15. RD, great insights.

    A few thoughts in sorting out why Obie would want this big canker sore on his Mt. Rushmore bust — insurance companies have a delightfully corpulent lust for the products of Wall Street. If Wall Street and the insurance industry were playing 6 degrees of separation, they wouldn’t get beyond two ply toilet paper.

    I have always believed that Obie, Axe and Rahm, with Rahm’s ill-fated big boom theory, secretly, but purposefully pines for Congress to change hands in 2010. Divided government always gets the highest approval from the electorate and it’s a way to get moderates back into play in 2012. So if there is any 11 dimensional chess being played, it is the sacrifice of about 50-75 little democratic pawns. We know that he cares nothing for the Democratic party that so empowered his “jibmanship.” When you do apprenticeships in leaking sealed divorces to win elections, orchestrating the change of Congress is a master’s thesis project.

    The other thing that no one in the media will say out right is that in an incremental health care strategy, there was no freaking way all the crap contained in this bill would have escaped public scrutiny. I have found myself circling the drive-by lobotomy clinic when I think such thoughts, but Boehner is telling the truth when he says the bill is too large for true public consumption.

    It is the perfect storm when you consider that when you ask what do Obie, Axe and Rahm have in common — the first answer is an utter disdain and loathing for policy. The second thing is that they are always telling you how hard they are working. The third is how tired they always are. An amazing consistency.

  16. ” I don’t think he really came to the White House with well developed policies on anything, and it shows. ”

    When in the world would he have had time to do that? He was so busy with all those part time jobs for goodness sakes!

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