David Broder dissects the work of his Washington Post colleagues who’ve been covering and perpetuating the Rahm Emanuel “I’m smarter than Obama” story, which, as Broder bluntly puts it, have “portrayed [Obama] as a weakling and a chronic screw-up who is wrecking his administration despite everything that his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, can do to make things right.” Broder recites the White House spin (whose? in the hall of mirrors, is this Rahm’s version of events?) that it’s not Rahm but Rahm’s friends who are fanning the flames, and that it’s the economy that’s sunk the president’s approval ratings.
All this is interesting, if not amusing, and certainly a refreshing change from the “everyone is getting along splendidly” spin we heard just a short time ago. But the fact remains that whatever advice Obama has gotten from whichever advisers, he’s made a series of blunders — adopting an unworkable and dangerous criminal-justice model for combating terrorism, doubling down on his grossly unpopular health-care schemes, affecting a hyper-partisan demeanor toward critics, pushing a far-Left agenda, failing to “pivot” back to jobs, and doing positively nothing to impair the mullahs’ pursuit of nuclear weapons. Emanuel’s willingness to speak out, or to have surrogates speak out on his behalf, is simply confirmation that saner heads realize that this presidency is sinking fast. Debunking who gave what advice and trying to discern who the snipers are may be interesting asides, but ultimately irrelevant.
However, if Broder is correct that the White House actually believes its troubles are attributable to a listing economy, this suggests that no soul-searching or self-reflection has gone on, that the administration has learned nothing from the string of high-profile election losses, and that it intends to drive the Democratic party to the … what is it? … ah, precipice to achieve its own ideological aims. Now one might think that a group so convinced that the economy is the source of its travails might spend more time trying to fix the economy or figure out which of its policy proposals might retard the recovery. But, no. For this crew, the poor economy is a political excuse (like George W. Bush), not a policy focus.
Elections, as Obama concedes, matter, and come November the voters will hold those in power accountable. They aren’t much interested if Rahm was “right” — they simply want the Obami and the Congress to stop doing things they intensely dislike.