There was finally a shake up over at the White House this weekend. No, Rahm neither resigned nor was axed. Instead, Social Secretary Desiree Rogers became "the first high-level departure from Obama's senior staff."
WaPo spends more than enough ink presenting reasons for the departure of the outside-the-Beltway African-American black businesswoman and Obama friend. We will not repeat them here. However, it is worth mentioning that her replacement, Julianna Smoot, is a Democratic political insider whose expertise is "donor maintenance". She and the wealthy Penny Pritzker raised more than half a billion for Obama's Presidential campaign. While Rogers "threw open the gates to the 'people's house'," you can be rather certain a different class of invitees will be attending future White House social events. There is no reason to believe Chief-of-Staff Emanuel will have any problems working with Smoot, or that the Israeli lobby will not have the social access to the White House to which they have grown accustomed.
Meanwhile, instead of being shown the door for the scathing Dana Milbank critique of his fellow White Housers and the President, last week Rahm was sent up to the Congress to give Nancy Pelosi her marching orders on the health care bill.
To answer an earlier question we posed, it was beginning to appear that Rahm was "invincible" rather than on the way out. But reading the tea leaves from a front page WaPo article this morning by Jason Horowitz, "Hotheaded Emanuel may be White House voice of reason," the issue of Rahm's status may not be settled after all.
"Rahm Emanuel is continuing his p.r. offensive in the Washington Post today with a front-page article proclaiming him to be the smartest person in the White House. If only Obama had the sense to listen to Rahm, all would be good in the world."
Sudbay concludes that "Rahm must think he's in trouble if his people are pushing out these kinds of stories."
For lobby watchers, note the quote from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL),
"Listening to Emanuel would serve all our overall goals. I think that Rahm's considerable legislative experience translates into advice that the president should heed."
Wasserman Schultz represents Florida's 20th congressional district, which includes a heavily Jewish portion of Broward county plus parts of Miami-Dade. She is a member of the National Jewish Democratic Council and Hadassah, two extremely pro-Israel organizations. Like Rahm she moved up the House Democratic hierarchy very quickly. Her ability to raise funds for her fellow Democrats certainly had something to do with that. Wasserman Schultz was quite willing to go on the record in support of Emanuel this morning in an article that hardly reflects well on the President.
The actual examples in the article where Obama didn't listen to Emanuel are rather lame. Emanuel, along with his buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham, considered a civilian trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be a political mistake, while Obama decided that Attorney General Eric Holder should make the decision based on legal principle. Evidently, Rahm supporters favor the rule of the mob over the rule of law.
It is stated that Emanuel favored a less ambitious health-care program than Obama decided upon, and then the article feigns that Emanuel thought jobs were the more important issue. Yet, Emanuel's cave-in to Sen. Snowe on the inadequate stimulus package is not connected to the current political woes Obama now faces over the high unemployment rate.
The disastrous Obama Mideast policy is not even mentioned. Hard to believe Rahm didn't have advice on that.
The public row over Rahm reflects the existing cracks in the Democratic Party. Whether Rahm stays or goes, it is hard to see the Administration changing its Mideast course, either on Iran or Israel-Palestine. The United States is closely on the path that Dennis Ross charted before the election, and we don't hear any complaints from either Ross or Friends of Ross about the Administration's policies. The silence is an indication Dennis is firmly in control.