One day into being president-elect and we’re already second-guessing Barack Obama’s decisions. Welcome to the White House! Yesterday Obama moved to fill the first post in his administration with an offer to Illinois congressman and former Bill Clinton adviser Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff. Emanuel was at first reported to have accepted, but now it seems that while he’s leaning toward taking the job, he’s still mulling the effects on his family and future ambitions. But given his, er, colorful history as a hard-nosed, vengeful partisan (he once screamed “Dead! Dead! Dead!” while listing off Clinton’s enemies and stabbing a steak knife into a table), some are wondering whether he’s a good fit for the no-drama, bipartisan approach that Obama has promised.
• Ezra Klein feels mixed about Emanuel, “the type of guy who makes enemies, then makes lists of his enemies, then makes lists of his enemies’ friends, then makes lists of how they’ll pay.” Emanuel is a realist who showed an “allergy to ambition” in Clinton’s administration, and though he “won’t be setting priorities” for Obama, he could persuade Obama “to take a dimmer view of the potential for change, reform, and improvement.” [American Prospect]
• James Pethokoukis says Emanuel is a “new New Deal” type of guy whose “relatively incrementalist agenda” on jobs and health care might make sense “to Obama in a time of budgetary constraints.” [Capital Commerce/U.S. News]
• Steve Benen shares many of the concerns about Emanuel, but the position is more “managerial than ideological,” and so he won’t be “setting the WH agenda, but rather, will help execute it.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]
• David Corn questions whether Emanuel is really an agent of change, but suspects that “maybe an agent of change needs someone who can move the bureaucracy (and the trash) to get change done.” [Mojo/Mother Jones]
• Michael Crowley notes that it’s “curious to see the public drama unfolding over whether Rahm Emanuel accepts his offer to be chief of staff,” considering how drama-free the campaign had been. It won’t have lasting consequences, but stories about Emanuel as “a hard-driving and sometimes abrasive partisan who doesn’t really mesh with the image Obama promoted in the campaign” aren’t great for this moment. If Obama has a bipartisan appointment “up his sleeve,” now would be a good time to announce it. [Stump/New Republic]
• Yuval Levin believes Obama’s pick of Emanuel “is an extremely disconcerting (if not wholly surprising) first indication on the ‘which Obama will we get’ question.” While “[t]here is definitely a place for a Rahm Emanuel type of brilliant ruthless shark in a White House staff” it shouldn’t be as Chief of Staff, where Obama needs someone “with a sense of the gravity of the choices the president faces, and one capable of moving the staff to decision, keeping big egos satisfied and calm, and resisting the pressure to be purely reactive to momentary distractions.” [Corner/National Review]
• Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei say Obama hopes Emanuel, who “knows the Hill and power politics as well as anyone in town,” can “move fast to push his legislative agenda through the Democratic-controlled Congress.” In Clinton’s administration, Emanuel “was a consistent voice for anti-crime measures, welfare reform and other initiatives that pushed against liberal orthodoxy.” [Politico]
• Jonathan Weisman and Deborah Solomon write that Emanuel “wouldn’t be a back-room conciliator who brings disparate voices to consensus, but an enforcer who bangs heads and keeps the troops in line,” much like the relationship between Obama and his campaign manager, David Plouffe. [WSJ]
• Chris Cillizza thinks Obama is “sending a message to Capitol Hill that he recognizes the need to work with them by selecting one of their own but that he also will not be afraid to play tough.” [Fix/WP]
• Andrew Sullivan bets even “Rahm’s friends will acknowledge that he is as abrasive as Obama is smooth, and, well, he knows how to be a total asshole when he has to be,” but that might be what you need in a chief of staff. [Atlantic]
• Chuck Todd and friends wonder “what would be the perception that Obama’s first job offer was rejected?” However, Emanuel’s “family consideration issue is real; he would have to move his family from Chicago, and he’d also have to give up his dream of being Speaker.” [First Read/MSNBC]
Update: Politico reports that Emanuel took the job.