President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has been a popular scapegoat for disappointed liberals during these past few bleak months. Health-care progressives, especially, don't like his indifference to the public option, or his willingness to scale back the legislation. You know who is still firmly in Emanuel's corner, though? The Washington Post. In the past few weeks, the paper and website have produced not one, not two, but three pieces defending Emanuel, starting with Ezra Klein an admitted Emanuel skeptic on February 11:
It's a bit weird to see so much blame accruing to Rahm Emanuel for the administration's woes. Emanuel wasn't part of the campaign team. He was brought in to help govern. In that capacity, his primary job was shepherding the administration's agenda through the legislative process. Ugly as that process was, Emanuel and more to the point, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi did a fairly masterful job at it.
Ten days later it was columnist Dana Milbank's turn:
Obama's first year fell apart in large part because he didn't follow his chief of staff's advice on crucial matters. Arguably, Emanuel is the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter.
Ugh, if only stupid Obama were smart enough to listen to everything Emanuel told him! The article was so glowing and full of privileged information that Emanuel was accused of leaking information to Milbank himself, though Milbank denies he spoke to Emanuel at all for the story.
And since it's been more than a week since that column, the Post today ran another article, which delves deeper into Milbank's argument this time, with quotes and such from legislators confirming that Emanuel is a genius. Though both pro- and anti-Emanuel opinions are aired, Emanuel ultimately comes off as a skilled, hardworking, and loyal voice of reason" in the White House:
But a contrarian narrative is emerging: Emanuel is a force of political reason within the White House and could have helped the administration avoid its current bind if the president had heeded his advice on some of the most sensitive subjects of the year: health-care reform, jobs and trying alleged terrorists in civilian courts.
This contrarian view, of course, is emerging due in large part to the tireless efforts of the Post. We're not saying they're wrong about Emanuel, necessarily. It does seem that any anger over the failures of health-care reform so far could be much more reasonably directed at Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, or, as Ezra Klein pointed out, Martha Coakley. And if Emanuel, as reported, predicted that closing Guantánamo Bay and trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts would become greater headaches than anyone else seemed to realize, well, he was right. We're just saying that if we were Mrs. Emanuel, we might be starting to get a little jealous.