Monday, June 21, 2010

Well, That Explains the 2006 Elections

The Republicans lost because of public reaction to the resignation of Andrew Card as GW's Chief of Staff. Seriously.

Okay, not so seriously, but the analysis perhaps highlights how overseas analysis premised upon the claims of Beltway journalists and pundits can result in their exaggerated belief in the importance of palace intrigue on U.S. elections.
You see, Alex Spillius has a rather intriguing scoop in the Telegraph this morning, alerting the world to the possibility that the American President’s Chief of Staff may leave the White House before two years of Obama’s first term are up.

He seems cheesed off at not getting his way.

It’s hard to overstate the extent to which Republicans, already feeling that they’ve got the wind in their sails ahead of the mid-term elections, will jump on this as a sign of administrative failure in the White House. That would be a great shame, not least because it is partly true.
Like Colin Powell's resignation as Secretary of State, if it is actually to occur after the election it won't affect the election. (This stuff needs to be explained?) Rumors of resignation are, for some reason, being treated as news today - to the extent that people care, they will be stale in November.
His departure would be interpreted by a large portion of the American populace, and many of the right wing cable channels and radio stations, as a sign that things are at breaking point in the Oval Office, and not enough is getting done.
A "large portion"? Again, seriously?

More realistically the average American voter will react by asking, "Rahm who? Who did what?" As important a role as the White House Chief of Staff can play, I'm skeptical that Emanuel has much national name recognition and, to the extent that people know who he is, I'm skeptical that more than a handful could describe his job title and, of those, only a fraction would know what the job entails. Perhaps the resignation, should it occur, would be highlighted by right-wing commentators and Beltway concern trolls as signs of problems in the White House, but it would be just another talking point - useful to advance a predefined narrative, and of interest only to people who believe the narrative, as opposed to being of actual significance.
Emanuel is a man whose reputation enters a room long before he does; and he was appointed to that post specifically because he was a fixer with a record of getting things done.
Okay, so Emanuel has a reputation, "deserved or not", for "getting things done," but since he took his present position he has failed to "get things done", so he's angry at the President? That interpretation seems to explain Emanuel by a combination of the Peter Principle and narcissistic injury, which I'll grant is quite possible given the personalities often at play in Washington, but how is it anybody's fault but Emanuel's if he can't live up to his reputation.

President Obama wanted to pass healthcare reform in his first year in office. Emanuel reportedly got cold feet, and urged Obama to abandon comprehensive reform in favor of a modest bill. Obama ignored Emanuel and Obama got things done - and if somebody can be said to have been Obama's fixer on the issue, it would seem to be Nancy Pelosi.

This story from the Telegraph is the source of all the buzz... An unnamed person says that Emanuel may resign in six to eight months, and another unnamed person would "bet on" that happening.
Friends say he is also worried about burnout and losing touch with his young family due to the pressure of one of most high profile jobs in US politics.
With absolutely no disrespect intended to the @1% of cases in which this is true, "I'm resigning to spend more time with my family" is the cover story given principally by people who know they have no chance of keeping their job, either because they're about to lose an election or because they're about to be fired. I have no more reason to start a rumor that Emanuel may be fired than I do to believe a badly sourced rumor that he plans to resign, but if we're going to resort to doublespeak explanations for why one or the other might occur let's at least translate that doublespeak accurately.

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