Atlantic's Brownstein Rebukes Boehner for Criticizing Obama Pick of Emanuel
Appearing on MSNBC shortly after 1 p.m. EST with anchor Andrea Mitchell, The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein rebuked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for drawing a legitimate criticism of President-elect Obama's choice of what he described as the "sharp-elbowed" Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as his White House chief-of-staff (see video embedded at right, transcript is below page break).
Mitchell dismissed as "warfare" and Brownstein hit as "reflexive partisanship" Boehner's rather mild statement:
This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.
But it's not just Republican partisans who are noting Emanuel's hard-nosed, partisan politics. As the Reuters news wire noted in a November 5 article, "Emanuel would bring [a] tough edge to White House job":
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a combative member of the Democratic congressional leadership, is in line to become President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, party sources said.
The job was offered to fellow Chicagoan Emanuel on Wednesday, just hours after Obama was elected, and he was expected to quickly accept the post -- making him one of the most important members of Obama's new inner circle, the sources said.
A one-time adviser to former President Bill Clinton, Emanuel has a reputation for being a master strategist. But he has also been viewed as a highly partisan fighter in the rough world of Washington politics.
"I am a man who has been called temperamental, vindictive, foul-mouthed and mean. And that's just my mom bragging about me," he said in a self-deprecating speech at an annual dinner held by Washington journalists last year.
Indeed, shortly after 3 p.m. on the same network, anchor Norah O'Donnell described the Chicago Democrat's political style as "brass-knuckles" and cited an unsavory observation from Emanuel's fellow Clinton administration alumnus Paul Begala. The evaluation that Emanuel is far from Dudley Do-right when it comes to temperament is hardly a right-wing talking point.
But what does that matter when you're attempting to portray Republicans are sour grapes intent on ruining Obama's "honeymoon" with the media?
The transcript of the video follows (emphases mine):
RON BROWNSTEIN, Atlantic magazine: He seemed to be on the track to be Speaker some day, that seemed to be a venue in which he was very well-suited for his skills. As White House chief, he has sharp political instincts and sharp elbows, sometimes. And it will be interesting to see whether he can kind of moderate that style. The most sharp-elbowed White House chiefs of staff, I think of Don Regan and John Sununu, generally have not fared well. There's a diplomatic task as well. You have to have the right balance between being a task master, but also being a diplomat.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC anchor: Getting back to John Boehner's statement, the Republican leader. This is warfare, saying that this is an ironic choice. He's already taking on the chief-of-staff, there isn't even a honeymoon there.
BROWNSTEIN: That seems like the kind of shrewd political instincts that have carried Republicans from a congressional majority to about 180 seats over two cycles. If there was anything clear from the results of this election, even the nomination of McCain and Obama, it is that the country is looking for a different style of politics. They want the parties to back away from the reflexive partisanship that has characterized really since the Clinton impeachment, since the balanced budget of '97 characterized Washington over these last 10 years. And the tone that Boehner strikes in that just seems to me exactly the risk that Republicans face under Barack Obama, which is that, they suffered so many losses among kind of the swing districts of the country and the swing areas of the country that what's left is a very conservative core that does not instinctly, I think, have a feel for how you rebuild the party in these places where they have been obliterated.
Update (15:34 EST): Fellow NewsBuster Rich Noyes pointed out that the New York Times's Peter Baker and Jeff Zeleny noted similar criticisms of Emanuel in a front-page November 6 article:
In turning to Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Podesta, Mr. Obama sought out two of the hardest-hitting veterans of President Bill Clinton's administration, known for their deep Washington experience, savvy and no-holds-barred approach to politics. Neither is considered a practitioner of the "new politics" that Mr. Obama promised on the campaign trail to bring Republicans and Democrats together, suggesting that the cool and conciliatory new president is determined to demonstrate toughness from the beginning.