Please, please, please, don’t let me latest post on Rahm Emanuel obscure my criticism of this highly partisan Chicago political operative. With all the attention focused on the White House Chief of Staff and criticism of his tactics reaching a fever pitch and going to rhetorical extremes, Jim Geraghty observes that “no one in Washington jumped up to deny” certain accusations against Rahm, notably the one about him selling his mother to get a vote.
My point is not that Rahm is a good guy nor that he’s worth defending (though I grant that some of the recent criticism has been over the top and unwarranted–and yes, you can go too far in criticizing even a man who merits criticism), but that the problem isn’t so much Rahm as it is Obama’s agenda. He’s trying to sell policies the American people don’t want and is focusing on issues which are, at best, peripheral to the American people.
While I don’t agree with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert’s characterization of Republicans nor do I support the solutions he would offer, I do agree with his analysis of the causes for the Administration’s troubles:
The Obama administration and Democrats in general are in trouble because they are not urgently and effectively addressing the issue that most Americans want them to: the frightening economic insecurity that has put a chokehold on millions of American families. . . .
Instead of focusing with unwavering intensity on this increasingly tragic situation, making it their top domestic priority, President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill have spent astonishing amounts of time and energy, and most of their political capital, on an obsessive quest to pass a health care bill. . . .
But while the nation is desperate for jobs, jobs, jobs, the Democrats have spent most of the Obama era chanting health care, health care, health care.
The president should remember that, during the 2008 campaign, the electoral tide (at least as measured in polls) began to turn in his favor when the scope of the financial meltdown became manifest. People trusted him more than they did John McCain to focus on fixing the economy. Save for his insistence at the outset of his Administration on swift passage of the legislation (AKA the “stimulus”) he claimed would do just that, the incumbent has spent the better part of his time in office addressing other matters.
Rahm’s only part of the problem. The real problem is the president’s failure to focus on the real concerns of the American people.