Rahmbo Chief Of Staff? You Can Kiss Bipartisanship Goodbye
There is much speculation going on right now about how Obama would govern if elected president. Yesterday John Kerry was on Meet the Press talking about how he would urge Obama to "build 85 vote majorities" in the Senate. Doug Schoen, the political mastermind whose strategy for the past 8 years has largely been telling Democrats to accomodate George Bush, says that Obama must demonstrate his commitment to bipartisanship by appointing Republicans to his cabinet.
That may be fabulous political speech, but people who pay even remotely close attention to politics know that in order to get 85 votes on anything in the Senate, you’re basically telling lobbyists and the corporate cons who pay them that they’ve got veto power over any legislation. There is no shiny new bill with pearly white teeth that is going to make everyone happy — if there were, it would’ve passed already. Eighty five votes is the political equivalent of the status quo.
What’s surprising is that in the very next breath, and with no apparent sense of contradiction, people will talk about the likelihood of Rahm Emanuel being Obama’s Chief of Staff. It’s a real knee-slapper. Rahm and 85 votes? You’ve got to be kidding. It will be an instant sign that all the bipartisan talk is just that — talk — and signal that Obama intends to work solely within the Democratic caucus to achieve his objectives. The Republicans would be welcome to tag along if they like.
I don’t share Rahm’s political objectives — he’s the architect of NAFTA, a "free trade" hound and the godfather of the Heath Schuler immigration bill, which seeks to privatize the border and give illegal immigrants no path to citizenship. But Rahm doesn’t do "bipartisan" — which I’ve always sort of liked about him. Not that I think the Republicans have any interest in working with a Democratic administration — particularly not the ones who are left after Tuesday. As Paul Krugmann notes this morning, the moderates will likely be purged from the party, leaving it in the hands of the extremists. They’re very good at operating as an opposition party and will be only too happy to do so once again.
The Obama team has been remarkably leak-proof so odds are this rumor didn’t come from them, and Rahm is rather notorious for floating these things himself. But the only thing Rahm Emanuel is going to extend across the aisle to Republicans is a sharp slap in the face, and if Obama does indeed appoint him, we’ll soon see just how important achieving 85 votes is to a new administration.